ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - Federal regulators have allowed construction to resume along a portion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline's route through West Virginia and southwest Virginia.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission cited an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management which said the pipeline's approved 303-mile (487-kilometer) route through the Jefferson National Forest is the best alternative.
Authorization comes less than a month after FERC issued a stop-work order for the project.
The only exceptions are a 3.5-mile (5.6-kilometer) stretch of the pipeline through the national forest, for which Mountain Valley still must obtain a permit, and a segment in Braxton County, West Virginia.
Mountain Valley would run south through the center of West Virginia and connect in southern Virginia to the more than 10,000-mile (16,000-kilometer) Transco pipeline system.
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The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has refused to schedule a hearing on an appeal of the Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline's authorization.
WVDEP Secretary Austin Caperton signed a letter last week denying a request for a hearing challenging the DEP's approval of a Clean Water Act certification for the MVP. The letter was sent to Appalachia Mountain Advocates, an environmental law firm that challenged the authorization.
Appalachian Mountain Advocates senior attorney Derek Teaney says individuals and groups will probably appeal Caperton's decision in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The permit in question is a certification under the Clean Water Act that stipulates pipeline activity will not violate the state's water quality standards.
The MVP would run about 300 miles from West Virginia to Virginia.