US Government Passes Pivotal Debt Ceiling Bill–Includes Controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline

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Trout Unlimited picture of pipeline construction in Appalachia

Last week, both Houses of Congress passed a bipartisan bill to raise the debt ceiling, avoiding an economic catastrophe, and President Biden subsequently signed it into law. While the underlying intention of the legislation–i.e. avoiding the collapse of the United States’ economy–was necessary and the bipartisan agreement was welcomed, a provision to fast-track the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline was included.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline would transport natural gas some 300 miles from West Virginia into Virginia, cutting through a National Park and stands to impact many waterways in the region. The pipeline has consistently attracted controversy, either from environmental organizations arguing it will negatively impact the region’s natural resources or energy advocates saying the pipeline has been adequately studied and the permitting process must speed up.

While not operational yet, past construction has already produced negative impacts to waterways, including the many headwater streams in WV and VA. A Trout Unlimited report found many instances of large sediment run-off events, resulting in state violations and citations.

Local environmental organizations are saying they plan to continue fighting the project, but the Debt-Ceiling Bill’s language will make that very difficult. Time will tell.

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