The emergency appeal filed by Mountain Valley Pipeline with the U.S. Supreme Court will likely be heard by Chief Justice John Roberts, according to U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
Capito is one of nearly a dozen lawmakers who have signed onto an amicus brief in support of Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC’s, emergency application to vacate the latest stay against the project issued by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.
The natural gas pipeline project for West Virginia and neighboring Virginia was set to resume construction earlier this month after the U.S. Congress approved bipartisan legislation that ratified and approved all of the necessary permits for the project. The same law also stripped the 4th Circuit from jurisdiction over the case. President Joe Biden signed the measure into law.
Still, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the MVP project.
Capito said the emergency appeal will likely be heard by Chief Justice Roberts, who could issue a singular ruling without the full Supreme Court hearing the case.
“Well, I think in this case if I’m understanding the process correctly, the decision goes to the justice overseeing the 4th Circuit in emergency situations,” Capito said during her weekly virtual briefing Thursday. “So the MVP Equitrans, who is the MVP constructor or developer, has appealed this decision in an emergency basis, which means Justice John Roberts will hear that because he is the one that oversees the 4th Circuit. Now he can make a singular decision or it can go to the full court. But a lot of time in these emergencies they make a singular decision. So I would look for that to be the case because MVP is going up against a deadline because they can’t construct properly in through the winter months for obvious reasons.”
Capito said there is still time for construction on the pipeline to resume before winter arrives with a positive ruling from the high court.
“That is why this emergency opinion is being sought,” she said. “I feel confident, I’m confidently hopeful, that Justice Roberts will be affirmative in his decision of what Congress has done here.”
Capito said the Mountain Valley Pipeline, once it is finished, will carry 3 percent of the nation’s natural gas production.
“Well, first of all the Mountain Valley Pipeline is about 95 percent complete,” Capito said. “It is a pipeline that goes from our Marcellus Shale development, where we have a huge proliferation of natural gas. It goes through West Virginia and through Virginia and down to North Carolina, so it is serving the Eastern Seaboard.”
Capito, who has been critical of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, again Thursday said the MVP project hasn’t gotten “a fair shake from the 4th Circuit. It’s very rigged.”
Lawmakers who have signed onto an amicus brief in the case include Capito, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-Pa., U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, also a Republican, has said he too will file an amicus brief in the case to restart the MVP construction.
The 303-mile, 42-inch-diameter pipeline, which will carry natural gas from north-central West Virginia to Chatham, Va., was slated to be finished by late 2018 at a cost of about $3.2 billion. Protests and federal permitting court cases have delayed the project and increased its cost to about $6.5 billion.
One unfinished section of the project is a 3.5-mile stretch through the Jefferson National Forest across Peters Mountain in Monroe County into Giles County.