"Mountain Valley Pipeline and its Southgate extension have been poorly conceived from the beginning, but today some of the communities in harm's way can breathe easier," said one campaigner.
Frontline critics of the Mountain Valley Pipeline celebrated after Equitrans Midstream revealed Friday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the distance of the proposed Southgate extension project has been cut in half.
The partially completed MVP project—long delayed by legal battles until congressional Republicans and President Joe Biden included language to fast-track it in a debt limit deal earlier this year—is set to cross 303 miles of Virginia and West Virginia.
The MVP Southgate extension into North Carolina was supposed to be 75 miles, but the filing details plans for a redesigned 31-mile gas project that "would include substantially fewer water crossings and would not require a new compressor station."
Responding to the development Friday evening, Denali Nalamalapu, communications director of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition, said that "despite receiving a free pass from the federal government, the MVP continues to crumble before our eyes. For nearly 10 years, communities along the route have declared this project impossible and deadly. Now, after meeting with its clients, we see further admission from MVP that they can't follow through with the foolhardy plan they set out with."
"This news is a win for the movement that will be celebrated by emboldened resistance in the new year."
"This news is a hard-won movement victory: Fewer people will be harmed now that the Southgate extension plan has been halved," she stressed. "The MVP has always known it poses a horrific danger to the communities along the route—but their bottom line takes priority."
"With this new plan, the company admits that fewer waterways will be harmed and a compressor station will be avoided, gesturing towards the devastating water pollution, air pollution, and health impacts it will and has caused," she added. "This news is a win for the movement that will be celebrated by emboldened resistance in the new year."
Appalachian Voices Virginia field coordinator Jessica Sims also welcomed the news as a win for communities on the frontlines of the climate-wrecking gas project.
"Mountain Valley Pipeline and its Southgate extension have been poorly conceived from the beginning, but today some of the communities in harm's way can breathe easier," Sims said Saturday. "We know these changes resulted from sustained opposition to this unnecessary methane gas pipeline and its Southgate extension, and our opposition continues."
The new Equitrans Midstream filing follows a pair of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) orders last week, one that allows MVP to raise gas transportation rates and another that extends the timeline to build the extension.
"The recent decision by FERC to extend Southgate's federal certificate was dependent on the pipeline having a contract with another entity to buy the gas," Appalachian Voices North Carolina program manager Ridge Graham noted Saturday.
"With a wholly new project that requires an 'open season' to find customers," Graham argued, "FERC should cancel the original Southgate Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and send the developers back to the drawing board."
With MVP opponents "facing increased repression from the state and the companies behind the pipeline," another group that has spent years battling the project, Appalachians Against Pipelines, is calling for solidarity actions across the United States January 29-31 "to bring the fight to every company and bank involved."