Possible NC gas pipeline crops up once during 4th Circuit arguments | Eastern North Carolina Now

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' hearing Thursday about the future of the Mountain Valley Pipeline included one reference to North Carolina.

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

    The possibility of a Mountain Valley Pipeline extension into North Carolina cropped up once during more than an hour of arguments Thursday at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Appellate judges are debating whether to dismiss a case from environmental activists challenging pipeline permits.

    Judges Roger Gregory, James Wynn, and Stephanie Thacker conducted their arguments Thursday morning just as the U.S. Supreme Court threw out two separate 4th Circuit orders that had blocked the pipeline project from moving forward.

    The 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline is designed to transport natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia. Owners have said that the pipeline is roughly 94% complete. It still requires a 3.5-mile section through the Jefferson National Forest, along with river and stream crossings and final restoration work.

    A separate MVP Southgate project would extend another 75 miles from Virginia into central North Carolina, passing through Rockingham County and ending in Alamance County.

    Thursday's hearing addressed only the original MVP project. But questions Gregory aimed at former U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, representing pipeline owners, brought the N.C. project into play.


    Verrilli argued in favor of the motion to dismiss environmentalists' suit against MVP permits. He cited a provision in the recent federal debt ceiling legislation. It included language approving the pipeline project and declaring that "construction and operation ... is required in the national interest."

    The U.S. Department of Interior and pipeline owners argue that the law limits the 4th Circuit's ability to address legal challenges against MVP.

    "We have to know when we can be judges again and actually adjudicate things," Gregory said. "Who decides when that resumes? That's all I'm asking."

    "In a situation in which Mountain Valley Pipeline, hypothetically, comes back to the federal government and says, 'We want to build additional spurs, we want to build something beyond ...," Verrilli responded.

    "Like in North Carolina," Gregory interjected.

    Verrilli's response didn't mention North Carolina or MVP Southgate specifically. He argued that permits and authorizations needed beyond "construction and operation at full capacity" of the original pipeline would be "outside the statute" tied to the debt ceiling deal.

    "That's certainly an area where there would be traditional review," Verrilli said.

    Most of Thursday's hearing dealt with whether 4th Circuit judges had any authority to block the pipeline's completion.

    "What substantive change do you have in the law other than a license for Mountain Valley to complete this without any guardrails that were put in place? ... You just gave a license and then told a court, 'You can't do anything about it,'" Gregory said.

    Wynn asked about the limits Congress faces when it removes a case from the federal courts. "Congress can intervene. Can it intervene in any type of case we have and take away jurisdiction, and that's the end of it?"

    "Congress didn't say to the judiciary, 'You shall dismiss this case,'" Verrilli responded. "It said here's the new law. Then it's up to the court to decide whether the permits and authorizations that petitioners are challenging are ones that the statute covers and protects."


    Kimberley Hunter, arguing for one group of pipeline critics, argued that Congress went too far in blocking 4th Circuit action. "What it is doing with that act is swooping in and telling a court exactly how it has to decide a case," Hunter said. "That's what it has done here by ratifying the approvals which are at issue before this court. What it's telling this court is you can't decide whether those approvals are legal or not."

    As the 4th Circuit panel considers the original Mountain Valley Pipeline project, the MVP Southgate project also has attracted recent attention.

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission originally determined that the N.C.-related project had to be completed by June. Pipeline owners have requested an extension to 2026.
Go Back


Latest State and Federal

Republican congressman Byron Donalds said it would be a “great honor” if former President Donald Trump were to ask him to be his running-mate for 2024, saying the ultimate goal is for Trump to win and he’ll do whatever he’s asked to help him do that.
Voters in Arizona will have the opportunity to enact broad border security measures in November as the state faces a flood of illegal immigration after the Republican-led state legislature passed a resolution that will put the measures on the general election ballot.
The former White House physician for Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump says that a new report this week about how President Joe Biden is struggling to function behind closed doors represents a serious threat to the U.S.
The Tikva Forum for Families of Hostages, an Israeli group created to represent the families of those taken during Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack, urged President Joe Biden to stop interfering with Israel’s campaign to destroy the terrorist group.
After saying the six-foot social distancing guideline during the COVID-19 pandemic “sort of just appeared,” Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday testified that his statement had been “distorted” and that it “actually” came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear one of two pending cases involving North Carolina bar owners challenging Gov. Roy Cooper's COVID-related shutdowns in 2020.
The Biden administration canceled over 350,000 asylum cases, allowing migrants to stay in the United States indefinitely in a move that experts called “mass amnesty.”
Former White House medical advisor Anthony Fauci changed his view of COVID vaccines from 2021 to 2024, clips show.
The Department of Justice announced on Friday that 75-year-old Paula Paulette Harlow was sentenced to two years in prison for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by taking part in a “conspiracy” to block pregnant women from entering an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C.


Back to Top