EQM Midstream Partners told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission via letter last week the company would stop some work on the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviews permits.
In the letter, EQM said it was voluntarily suspending new work on Mountain Valley in areas where such activities present a potential risk to endangered species or destruction of critical habitat areas, Reuters reported.
EQM said Friday it plans to continue construction in other areas along the route and is still targeting a mid-2020 in-service date for $5 billion pipeline, Kallanish Energy learns.
The midstreamer’s decision to suspend work was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club earlier last week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The Sierra Club asked the court to vacate Mountain Valley’s biological opinion and incidental take statement, which allow construction of the pipe in areas inhabited by threatened or endangered species.
Analysts told Reuters they don’t expect the Fish and Wildlife Service or EQM will pursue litigation since the Fourth Circuit would likely side with the Sierra Club as the court did in a case against another long-delayed project: Dominion’s Atlantic Coast pipeline, from West Virginia to North Carolina.
Instead, EQM voluntarily suspended work, the analysts told Reuters, noting the company had already completed building in those areas or was barred from working in them until it gets a new permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow the line to cross streams and other water bodies.
When EQM started construction in February 2018, it estimated Mountain Valley would cost about $3.5 billion and be completed by the end of 2018.
The 303-mile line is designed to deliver 2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas.
Mountain Valley is owned by units of EQM, NextEra Energy, Consolidated Edison, AltaGas, and RGC Resources.
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