Kaine Statement on Bill Text That Would Exempt the Mountain Valley Pipeline from Normal Permitting Rules
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine issued the following statement regarding recently released legislative text containing an unprecedented provision to approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline and exempt it from normal administrative and judicial review:
“We owe it to Virginians to ensure that any energy project that deeply affects their communities, even to the point of seizing their property, should only proceed following an orderly, fair, and transparent process overseen by energy and environmental agencies. That’s why I agree with the need to reform our broken process for permitting energy infrastructure. I am receptive to many of the permitting reform provisions announced today, though I believe the reform could be significantly improved by including my Pipeline Fairness, Transparency, and Responsible Development Act to strengthen public input into the permitting process.
“However, I cannot support the Mountain Valley Pipeline-related provisions in this legislative text. Over 100 miles of this pipeline are in Virginia, but I was not included in the discussions regarding the MVP provisions and therefore not given an opportunity to share Virginians’ concerns. In that sense, I stand in the same position as many of my constituents who have felt ignored along the way.
“Green-lighting the MVP is contrary to the spirit of permitting reform. Such a deliberate action by Congress to put its thumb on the scale and simply approve this project while shutting down opportunities for full administrative or judicial review is at odds with the bipartisan desire to have a more transparent and workable permitting process. It also contradicts a position I have publicly advocated for many years—that Congress should not be the decider of these projects, but should instead set up an effective administrative permitting system and allow it to work without legislative interference.
“I also strongly object to the highly unusual provisions to eliminate any judicial review for key parts of the MVP process and strip jurisdiction away from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for cases involving the MVP. The owners of the MVP may be dissatisfied with rulings of the Fourth Circuit; in my 18 years as a civil rights lawyer practicing in the Fourth Circuit, I wasn’t always happy with the Court’s rulings. But a litigant in federal court—rich or poor, individual or company—has appellate remedies if it disagrees with a court ruling. Allowing one party disappointed with the actions of a court to pick a different court, bypass normal administrative processes, and eliminate meaningful judicial review of its project would set a dangerous precedent that could easily lead to abuse and even corruption in the future.
“I urge my colleagues to oppose the MVP provisions in the bill text that has been released today. We should enact meaningful permitting reform and then let decisions on the MVP be made on the merits by the agencies we entrust with that responsibility.”
Last week, Kaine and Senator Mark R. Warner reintroduced their Pipeline Fairness, Transparency, and Responsible Development Act, legislation to strengthen the public’s ability to evaluate the impacts of and provide input on natural gas pipelines being considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They first introduced a version of this legislation in 2017.