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Mountain Valley Pipeline requests override of compressor station denial

Published by , Senior Editor
World Pipelines,

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is asking a federal judge to override the Fayette County commission’s 17 November refusal to rezone a parcel it needs for a compressor station.

MVP claims the commissioners didn’t have the authority to reject their application because the compressor station is part of a US$3.5 billion interstate pipeline for natural gas.

MVP says the compressor station, one of three the company plans to build along the 304 miles of pipeline from Wetzel to Braxton counties in West Virginia, is key to keeping the project on track for a December 2018 completion date. MVP says the West Virginia portion of the work will cost more than US$800 million.

The company said the success of the project “is dependent upon its timely completion” because under the agreements for the sale of the gas, the shippers’ obligations aren’t binding until construction is finished.

“Even if MVP pursues a legal challenge to that decision … the rezoning denial will result in an unreasonable delay in the construction of the Stallworth Station that will increase MVP’s expenses, diminish its revenue and delay the delivery of the significant benefits that the MVP Project will bring to the public,” the company stated.

In its complaint, MVP said the rezoning request was denied without explanation following a public hearing. Three months earlier, however, they said the zoning enforcement office’s resource co-ordinator submitted a report recommending the application be denied. Although the report had been several weeks in the making, MVP said it was “never made aware of (the) effort and did not know that any such report was being prepared” and was not given the opportunity to respond.

And because the pipeline involves the interstate transportation of natural gas, MVP insists the Natural Gas Act and Pipeline Safety Act both trump local rules – completely pre-empting “any state or local law or regulation that would affect the construction and/or operation” of a FERC-authorised gas transportation project. MVP says FERC issued them a certificate of necessity in October.

MVP says 2 billion ft3/d of natural gas will be pumped through its pipeline. Construction of the three compressor stations “will take longer than construction of the pipeline segments, and therefore it is important that construction (of them) begin before pipeline construction is commenced.”

Compressor stations will also be built in Wetzel and Braxton counties.

County officials referred questions to the prosecuting attorney.

Commissioner John Brenemen said the defendants are currently seeking an attorney and will file a formal response soon.

“We as a commission listen to our people,” Brenemen said. “Our folks were not willing to have the compressor station in the Meadow Bridge area. If it had been pipe by itself, they would not have had an issue.”

Brenemen continued, “It did not meet the specifications that have been laid out by our county. We had a plan for Meadow Bridge, and it didn’t meet what was selected by that market.”

Mountain Valley Pipeline would extend 42 in. diameter natural gas pipeline over 303 miles to transport West Virginia natural gas into southern Virginia.

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