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We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

Four Reasons We Must Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Senator Manchin wants the Mountain Valley Pipeline fast-tracked in a “side deal” – but its approval would be a disaster for both environmental justice and our climate.

Bundle of Arrows Gathering against the Mountain Valley Pipeline in August 2021 © 2021 Anthony Crider/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Communities across Appalachia have long resisted the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a disastrous project that would funnel fracked gas across West Virginia’s mountains and waterways to Virginia. Impacted landowners, Indigenous water protectors, Black community leaders, youth activists, and climate advocates have raised their voices, launched legal challenges, and organized against this 303-mile fossil fuel pipeline. And as a result of this grassroots movement, the MVP has remained incomplete.

But now, this dangerous fracked gas pipeline might get approved. Ahead of the Senate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Democratic leadership struck a so-called “side deal” with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) which could unacceptably fast-track this fossil fuel pipeline and could undermine America’s bedrock federal environmental laws.

While details of the proposed legislative text remain murky, one leaked summary of Senator Manchin’s “side deal” mandates the completion of the MVP. This version of the side deal would “require the relevant agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and give the D.C. Circuit jurisdiction over any further litigation.” 

It’s time to raise our voices to #StopMVP and tell Democrats in Congress to not approve this pipeline or a side deal that guts our bedrock environmental laws.

But first, let’s dive into 4 key reasons why the Mountain Valley Pipeline would be a climate and environmental justice disaster: 

1. Environmental injustice

Completing the MVP would continue an unacceptable legacy of treating Appalachia as a sacrifice zone, a practice our country cannot keep repeating. 

For example, after a valiant organizing fight by community members, Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board rejected an air pollution permit for the Lambert Compressor Station in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, which was designed to support the Southgate extension of the MVP. The proposed compressor station was slated to spew fine particulate matter into the air and pose health risks to local community members, including a significant number of Black residents. This community is already breathing the pollution from two existing gas-fired compressor stations, and defeating the air permit for this compressor station for the Southgate extension of the MVP was a major victory in environmental justice. 

Meanwhile, the proposed route of the MVP and its Southgate extension would encroach on multiple sacred Indigenous sites. The pipeline build-out has also already harmed the land and clean water of many low-income, rural, and majority-elder communities. 

The Mountain Valley Piepleine would have the same annual emissions as 24 coal plants.

Data source: Oil Change International (2017)

2. Fueling climate disaster

The Mountain Valley Pipeline would annually emit over 89 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution, according to a 2017 analysis by Oil Change International. That’s roughly equivalent to the yearly greenhouse gas pollution from 24 average U.S. coal plants or 19 million passenger cars. On top of that, this infrastructure would last for decades—when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is already crystal clear that we must be drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions to stand a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

In the last decade, the U.S. has become the largest oil and gas producer in the world, as well as the planet’s second-largest natural gas exporter and sixth-largest oil exporter. America’s explosion of fossil fuel development, production, and infrastructure build-out are fundamentally at odds with climate science. The UN Production Gap Report finds that global fossil fuel production must start “declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming” to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Center Production Phaseout Report finds if we want to stand a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world’s wealthiest ‘producer nations’—including the US—must cut their output of oil and gas by 74 percent by 2030 and achieve complete phase-out by 2034. 

As the climate crisis sweeps across the world, the U.S. government must not approve the MVP or prioritize fossil fuel build-out over communities and climate.

3. Ecosystem risks

Numerous studies have found that the MVP would pose serious risks to endangered species and surrounding ecosystems. The 303-mile long pipeline and accompanying Southgate extension would cut across almost 1,146 streams, creeks, rivers, and wetlands. The MVP would transport over 2 billion cubic feet of fracked gas each day, crossing over steep mountain slopes that are susceptible to landslides and an increased risk of pipeline explosions. 

4. Changing legal terrain

A version of the leaked proposed provision would deprive the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals of future legal jurisdiction. This is a notable requirement because the 4th Circuit has repeatedly sided with conservation groups and vacated approval of portions of the MVP due to environmental impact and endangered species concerns. With these changes, any further litigation would be handed over to D.C. Circuit jurisdiction, in a move of striking Congressional meddling into our justice system.

The MVP would be a disaster for communities, climate, and wildlife. It’s time to tell Democrats in Congress to stop this “side deal” in its tracks.