Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Jefferson National Forest

Current Status:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) to amend the Jefferson National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) to allow for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project on January 11, 2021. The ROD was issued after reviewing the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that addressed new information and changed circumstances.  The USDA’s ROD modifies certain standards in the Forest Plan to accommodate the pipeline construction and requires measures to minimize environmental impacts.  The agency will also provide a letter of concurrence for the MVP project to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The BLM is responsible for approving pipelines that cross federal lands under the jurisdiction of two or more federal agencies but must have the concurrence of the involved agencies. These actions are necessary steps in order for the MVP project to be built on National Forest System lands. 

The Forest Service published the Final SEIS on December 11, 2020. The SEIS addresses new information and changed circumstances, such as new federally listed threatened and endangered species and critical habitat designations, as well as the Fourth Circuit Court’s 2018 ruling vacating BLM’s Right-of-Way and the Forest Service’s Forest Plan amendment. The Forest Service prepared the Final SEIS for the MVP project in response to a revised Right-of-Way application deemed complete by BLM on May 28, 2020. The Final SEIS was developed following a 45-day comment period which closed on November 9, 2020. 4400 comments were received during the comment period and are discussed in Appendix C of the Final SEIS. This project was not subject to the Forest Service’s 36 CFR 218 project-level pre-decisional administrative review process. This is because the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment was the responsible official for the project. Projects and activities proposed by the Secretary of Agriculture or the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment are not subject to the predecisional administrative review process; approval of projects and activities by these two officials constitutes the Final administrative determination of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion project’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement supplements the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Final Environmental Impact Statement. The Forest Service as the lead agency, and BLM, as a federal cooperating agency, plan to make decisions based on the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement review of the FERC 2017 Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Background Information:

The Forest Service issued a Record of Decision on December 1, 2017, to modify 11 standards in the Jefferson National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan associated with the MVP project. Mountain Valley LLC obtained authorization from BLM to construct and operate the MVP project on federal lands crossed by the project on December 28, 2017. Under the Mineral Leasing Act, BLM is the federal agency responsible for issuing Right-of-Way grants for natural gas pipelines across federal lands under the jurisdiction of two or more federal agencies. BLM acquired the written concurrences of the Forest Service and the United States Army Corp of Engineers prior to issuing their authorization. Mountain Valley LLC had cleared trees along the 3.5 miles of the Right-of-Way on the Jefferson National Forest in the spring of 2018 and began constructing the pipeline on a 1.8-mile section of the Jefferson National Forest.

The MVP project was litigated by environmental organizations and received an adverse ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2018 that vacated Forest Service decisions and associated authorizations for the pipeline route across the Jefferson National Forest. Due to this ruling, all construction activity that was in progress on the Jefferson National Forest stopped. The Forest Service is continuing to implement stabilization measures as well as monitoring stabilized areas for potential soil erosion and sedimentation.

The Forest Service set aside several areas for individuals or groups to exercise their constitutional First Amendment rights.

A closure order for Brush Mountain and Sinking Creek Mountain was put in place June 11, 2021, and is effective until June 11, 2022, or until rescinded earlier. This closure order was put into effect to protect public health and safety.

For media inquiries:

Send an email to: SM.FS.GWJNF-PA@usda.gov or leave a voicemail at 1-888-603-0261.

Documents and Links

Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Record of Decision

News Release: Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Record of Decision

Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Record of Decision Frequently Asked Questions

News Release: Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Notice of Availability of Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Frequently Asked Questions

News Release: Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Mountain Valley Pipeline and Equitrans Expansion Project Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Notice of Availability of a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Revised Notice of Intent to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Notice of Intent to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

FERC-Final Environmental Impact Statement for Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC and Equitrans, LP's Mountain Valley Project (Docket #CP16-10)

Mountain Valley Pipeline Plan of Development (POD) and AppendicesLink to documents located on the Bureau of Land Management website

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling

Closure Order for Brush Mountain and Sinking Creek Mountain

First Amendment Expression Areas and Maps

Frequently Asked Questions

Archived Documents and Links

All archived documents and links for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project are available here.

 

 

 

 





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gwj/landmanagement/projects/?cid=stelprd3827827