CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A controversial natural gas pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia remains in limbo, although details on efforts to save it are emerging. This is all tied to an effort to keep the federal government funded and open after Oct. 1, so there is some urgency.
At the heart of the dispute is a provision to finish the Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline from Central West Virginia to southeast of Roanoke, Virginia. The pipeline is 94% complete. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has a bill to speed up this and similar energy projects.
Under his plan, permits must be issued within two years and a president can designate 25 total energy projects. Any legal challenges, including environmental, must happen within 150 days. But Republicans leaders prefer a different permitting bill offered by senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV).
“Senator Capito’s substitute bill stands in sharp contrast to what every indication thus far suggests will be weak reform, in name only legislation, from her home state colleague,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“I’m hearing that the Republican leadership is upset and they’re saying, ‘We’re not going to give a victory to Joe Manchin.’ Joe Manchin’s not looking for a victory. We’ve got a good piece of legislation that’s extremely balanced, and I think it will prove itself in time,” said Manchin.
And there was another new development. Thursday afternoon, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said she would support Manchin’s bill.
Capito said, “He got the MVP in there. So I’m very happy about that. And I like the way it is similar to mine. Yeah, very happy about that… Yes, I will support it.”
The question now is will any other Republicans get on board? Senator Manchin may need at least 14 more Republicans to join him if his bill is to pass. The Manchin measure is part of a Continuing Resolution, or CR, that is supposed to fund the federal government beyond Oct. 1. If it fails, the government would face a shutdown.
Meanwhile, both of Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, are opposed to finishing the Mountain Valley Pipeline because of environmental concerns.