West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Democratic leadership have agreed to advance a stalled natural gas pipeline in Manchin’s home region as part of a larger deal to reform federal environmental permitting, according to a one-page summary Manchin’s office shared with CNN.
The permitting deal was struck between Manchin, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to secure Manchin’s vote on the larger economic and clean energy package.
Manchin would not have come on board unless Democratic leaders vowed to enact legislation addressing the permitting of energy infrastructure, which could ease the path for the pipeline, CNN has previously reported.
The party’s leadership agreed to fast-track the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline located in the Appalachian region. Manchin and the rest of West Virginia’s congressional delegation are strong advocates for the project. It’s not clear how this deal struck in Congress would speed the completion of the project, since it has been delayed due to litigation. Environmental advocates and landowners concerned with private property rights have opposed the pipeline.
The one-page summary says the agreement will “require the relevant agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and give the DC Circuit jurisdiction over any further litigation.”
The permitting reforms will likely be tackled in a separate bill later this fall that will need support from Senate Republicans in addition to Democrats.
West Virginia news station WOWK13 first reported the deal.
The permitting agreement would set two-year maximum timelines for energy project permitting reviews, including environmental reviews through the National Environmental Policy Act. It would designate a lead agency to coordinate interagency review and also work to expedite certain major interstate electricity transmission projects.