The Supreme Court handed a big win to the Biden administration, bipartisan lawmakers, and the fossil fuel industry Thursday, vacating a lower court ruling that blocked construction of the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).
The July 10 stay orders from the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had sided with environmental groups Wilderness Society and Appalachian Voices and sued to stop the pipeline construction, were overturned by the Supreme Court’s short, unsigned order.
The Department of Justice had urged the Supreme Court to order the stay vacated in an amicus brief, citing the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the recent bipartisan debt limit bill signed by President Biden in early June. Under the bill, all permits for the MVP project were green-lighted, while judicial review jurisdiction was shifted from the 4th Circuit to the U.S. District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.
Opponents of the 4th Circuit ruling highlighted the practical effects of the Supreme Court’s decision: The pipeline’s developer instantly restarted construction of the pipeline, which will transport about 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from West Virginia to consumers in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic.
GOP Chief Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., said the Supreme Court accomplished two things: Not only did it uphold the law, but it also plugged up “ludicrous activism seeping out of the lower court” so American families can enjoy lower energy costs, substantial land royalties and law and order in the United States.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act was supported by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who helped secure the pipeline’s passage. On Thursday, Manchin said in a statement that the Supreme Court had spoken and the decision to restart construction was the correct one.
The pipeline project is expected to generate $40 million in new tax revenue for West Virginia, $10 million in new tax revenue for Virginia, and up to $250 million in royalties for West Virginia landowners. It was also backed by GOP West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, along with a host of other amicus briefs from the Laborers’ International Union of North America, American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, Chamber of Commerce, and counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives.
It remains to be seen whether environmental groups will continue to challenge the pipeline project in the lower courts. Regardless, the Supreme Court’s decision means the MVP is back on track and on its way to becoming a reality.