why it matters: Biden needs Manchin, Manchin needs fossil fuels.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline has long been opposed by environmental activists, civil rights activists, and many Virginia Democrats. Scientists have also warned that countries must stop approving new fossil fuel projects if they want to curb global warming, which President Biden has said is a top priority.
But Biden has ambitious climate change policies, but he needs Manchin and moderate Republicans to get there. These are considered key to passing legislation that the White House says is critical to accelerating construction of new wind, solar and other renewable energy projects.
In recent months, Mr. Biden has beefed up fossil fuels and taken steps to appease centrists while trying to fend off Republican criticism that his climate change policies are undermining America’s energy security. His administration has approved the massive Willow Oil Project in Alaska and increased exports of liquefied natural gas from Alaska. Both projects were backed by Manchin and Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is also a key swing voter for Biden.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Background: The project is years behind.
Equitrans Midstream, the Pennsylvania-based company building the pipeline, said construction is nearly complete. However, the project has been in legal delay for about four years.
The court twice denied the Forest Service’s attempts to issue permits for the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest. Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the government’s environmental reviews were unjustified. considered “insufficient” Erosion effects, other issues.
This national forest is home to five protected species, including endangered candy darters, colorful freshwater fish and native forest. Environmentalists are adamantly opposed to the project, saying it would destroy sensitive lands and ecosystems.
Jessica Sims, Virginia field coordinator for the Appalachian Voice, an environmental group that opposes the pipeline, said the Biden administration’s decision “grossly underestimates the lasting environmental damage from the project.”
what’s next: more legal action and more regulatory decisions.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is not yet a completed transaction. New lawsuits are expected to challenge the Forest Service’s decision. There is also a pending lawsuit regarding a recent Fish and Wildlife Service licensing decision in favor of the pipeline.
Additional regulatory hurdles remain. The Bureau of Land Management, which is responsible for approving cross-state pipelines, will have to decide whether to issue the necessary permits.
In a statement, Manchin said: “While I am pleased with the announcement from the Forest Service, the work is not done yet. line. ”