Frequently Asked Questions
What is Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC? Why was it created?
Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC is a joint venture of EQT Midstream Partners, LP; NextEra US Gas Assets, LLC; Con Edison Transmission, Inc.; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream, LLC. EQT Midstream Partners will operate the pipeline and own a significant interest in the joint venture. The joint venture was created to develop a pipeline to take natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions to markets in the Mid- and South Atlantic regions of the United States.
What are the details of the ownership partnership?
EQT Midstream Partners, LP has a 45.5% significant ownership interest in the joint venture and will operate the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline; NextEra Energy has a 31% ownership interest; Con Edison Transmission, Inc. has a 12.5% interest; WGL Midstream has a 10% interest; and RGC Midstream, LLC has a 1% interest.
What is the expected project timeline?
Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC began the voluntary pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October 2014. The FERC pre-filing is an engagement process to help stakeholders and pipeline companies alike understand questions and concerns. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC filed a formal Application with the FERC on October 23, 2015 and anticipates a mid-year 2017 construction start date, with an estimated in-service date during the fourth quarter 2018.
What is the proposed project scope?
The proposed pipeline is approximately 303 miles in length, with a diameter of 42″ and will be capable of transporting at least two million dekatherms per day of natural gas. Other facilities associated with the project will include three compressor stations, with identified locations in Wetzel, Braxton, and Fayette counties of West Virginia.
Can we get a map of the pipeline?
The proposed pipeline route is available on the Maps tab of the Mountain Valley Pipeline website.
When is construction expected to begin? When will the pipeline be placed in-service?
Construction of the new pipeline is expected to begin mid-year 2017 with operations expected to begin in the fourth quarter 2018.
What regulatory approvals are required for the project to proceed?
The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project will obtain necessary regulatory authorizations from the FERC, the federal agency with primary jurisdiction over U.S. interstate natural gas pipeline projects. In addition to its FERC certificate application, Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC will seek review from numerous other federal and state agencies, including, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state Department of Environmental Protection, as well as other state and local agencies.
During the FERC pre-filing process and certificate application periods, the FERC will conduct a thorough review of the project, evaluating the need, proposed facility locations, and overall impacts of the construction. The FERC process and the permitting processes of other federal and state agencies will allow interested stakeholders multiple opportunities to comment on the proposed pipeline project. The MVP project will comply with all U.S. Department of Transportation safety requirements.
Will the pipeline cross any environmentally sensitive areas?
The pipeline is being routed to avoid environmentally sensitive areas to the greatest extent possible.
How many landowners will be affected? What impact will the project have on landowners?
It is too soon to know how many property owners will be involved with the final route, but we have requested survey permission from property owners from several routing options. We are requesting survey permissions within what we call a “study corridor.” This is important to understand because the way in which we determine a route is through an extensive evaluation of numerous potential routes.
Survey and engineering activities and landowner and agency discussions have just begun, and these will continue throughout the remainder of 2014 and well into 2015. After these efforts, we will propose to the FERC what we believe to be the most appropriate route after balancing a number of factors. Considerations include: public and environmental impact; constructability; and regulatory requirements.
How will you communicate with local communities, landowners and other affected parties?
Community engagement is integral to the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s development process, from new project development through all phases of permitting, construction and ongoing operations. A toll free number, 844-MVP-TALK, is available, as well as a website, www.mountainvalleypipeline.info, so stakeholders have multiple ways to interact with us. We’ve begun the process of meeting with stakeholders to ensure that we listen early on in the process to any concerns and recommendations, and then incorporate feedback into our planning for this pipeline. We will continue to have these conversations as we proceed with this project. We will host community open houses to introduce, discuss, and answer questions regarding the proposed MVP project. At each open house, we will provide information about the project, solicit input, and answer project-related questions.
Will eminent domain come into play on this pipeline?
We work extremely hard to negotiate right-of-way easements and fair compensation for the easement with each landowner. If the FERC approves the project and no agreement with the landowner is reached, the pipeline may acquire the easement under eminent domain with a court determining compensation if necessary.
It’s important to note that we only utilize eminent domain as the very last resort. Eminent domain is a right given to interstate pipeline companies by federal statute through the Natural Gas Act, and that gives pipelines the right to take private land for FERC-authorized use.
How is the route for Mountain Valley Pipeline chosen?
The route selection process is conducted in a deliberate and thoughtful manner, utilizing experience and expertise of industry professionals. The pipeline route is designed to minimize the project’s impact on the environment, landowners, and communities. As Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC refines the route during the planning and permitting process, it will consider a number of factors including landowner concerns, environmental issues, cultural resources, and constructability.
How will Mountain Valley Pipeline be constructed?
Once all appropriate approvals and permits have been received, pipeline construction will occur in phases. Contractors will begin by clearing and grading the land. Then crews will string, weld, and install the pipe. Typically, the pipe is laid into a trench and then covered with a minimum of three feet of soil.
The disturbed area will then be returned to original contours as practical, limed, seeded, fertilized, and mulched. Before operations begin, the pipe is carefully inspected and tested as required by U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. The entire construction and installation process will be monitored by inspectors and will proceed as quickly and with as little impact as possible to the environment, landowners, and the community.
What can you expect during the construction of Mountain Valley Pipeline?
The construction process will consist of the following: construction surveying, clearing, grading, topsoil segregation (if applicable), trenching, pipeline stringing, welding, x-raying and weld repairs (if necessary), coating (if necessary), lowering in, back-filling, hydrostatic testing, clean-up and surface restoration and reseeding, if applicable. Any construction noise, dust and traffic issues will be kept to a minimum and all construction mitigation measures and safety procedures set by the FERC and other agencies will be followed.
Who oversees Mountain Valley Pipeline?
The FERC is the federal government agency that regulates both the construction of interstate natural gas pipelines and the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce. Other federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), also will review relevant parts of MVP. In addition, a number of local and state agencies are participating in planning and permitting the project.
What is an easement?
An easement provides an operator with a limited use of property for defined, specific purposes. The acquisition of an easement does not transfer ownership of the land to the MVP; it does, however, give Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC the right of access for construction and maintenance and the safe operation of the pipeline.
What is involved in the easement negotiation process?
Both a permanent easement and a temporary construction easement will be needed for this project. The permanent easement is the room to maintain and operate the pipeline, while the temporary easement is used for working space during construction. A Landman, or representative of Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, will contact you to discuss the agreements that cover the easements, payments for crops or timber that will be disturbed during the construction, and any access that will be needed for pipe and equipment.
What is the role of the Landman?
A Landman is a professional who represents Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, and is the primary contact with the landowners along a proposed pipeline route. The Landman’s role is to make certain a landowner receives useful information about the MVP project. If you are a landowner that may be involved with the MVP project, you can work with the Landman since he or she will be your primary contact throughout the project.
What rights do Landowners have with respect to having a pipeline located on their property?
Landowners are entitled to receive fair compensation for having a pipeline on their property. The goal of Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC is to obtain from the Landowner the necessary land rights for the pipeline project. During the negotiations with the Landowner, Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC will work with the Landowner to address specific concerns they may have about their property.
Will Landowners be allowed to use the land where the pipeline easement is located after the pipeline is constructed?
Generally, Landowners will be able to utilize their land the same as they did before the easement and pipeline is located on their property. For example, agricultural activities such as growing crops and pasturing livestock can resume as soon as the land is ready, but Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC will need to operate the pipeline safely, so some restrictions may apply. The effect of any restrictions would be addressed as part of the pipeline easement agreement granted to Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC.
How wide will the easement be?
The permanent easement will be 50 feet in width (with 125 feet of temporary easement during construction) required to safely build the MVP. At the end of construction, the land will be restored to as near its original condition as possible.
What measures will be taken to protect the environment during and after construction of the MVP?
The construction and operation of the pipeline is governed by strict state and federal environmental regulations. Routing near existing pipeline utility right-of-ways reduces the need to clear previously undisturbed land. Where clearing does occur, Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC will work to minimize any impact to sensitive environmental areas. After the MVP is in operation, Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC will continue to adhere to the requirements of all applicable environmental permits.
What activity will be seen after the MVP is placed in service?
Future activities along the route will consist of visual inspections by personnel flying over and walking the right of way, looking for any natural or manmade conditions that could impact the pipe or affect its safe operation. When pipeline maintenance work is needed, EQT Midstream Partners, LP will contact landowners in advance so that they are aware of the activity.
What will the company do to minimize the risk of explosions?
The proposed MVP project is being designed with safety as its top priority, adopting design features and operating practices that will exceed already stringent industry and regulatory safety standards. Some of the measures will include:
- Remote controlled shut off valves monitored 24-hours-a-day
- More frequent inspections than are required by law, including regular inspections with highly sophisticated internal inspection tools
- X-raying 100% of pipeline welds
- In certain locations, installing thicker steel pipe than is required by regulations
How many serious safety incidents take place on interstate pipelines?
We understand there are concerns about the safety of natural gas pipelines, however, I want to assure residents and landowners that we are committed to building the Mountain Valley Pipeline safely and responsibly, and we’re going to do this the right way. According to the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Department of Transportation, natural gas pipelines have the best safety record of any energy delivery system in the U.S. We take tremendous precautions to ensure the long-term safety of our pipelines. Once the pipeline is operational, we use have sophisticated technology to monitor the pipeline in real time 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
What steps are taken to ensure the safety of the pipeline?
Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC is committed to safely operating and maintaining the MVP. Along with our regular visual inspections, we will monitor the pipeline continuously, in real-time, using state-of-the-art equipment in our control center. The pipeline is marked at road crossings, fence lines and other areas and the right-of-way is maintained so that it is clearly identifiable. Neighbors who live along the right-of-way also are encouraged to contact Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC if they have any questions or see or hear anything that concerns them. The pipeline will be regularly patrolled in accordance with Department of Transportation regulations, and will have its overall integrity assessed in accordance with industry practices and specific applicable regulatory requirements.
How will local communities benefit from the new natural gas supply?
Multiple benefits include:
- Regional energy reliability and access to domestic, clean-burning natural gas
- Construction jobs and revenues through property and severance taxes
- Overall local stimulus of services and resources required for expansion
- During the design and construction of the project the communities along the pipeline route will benefit from the commercial activities associated with the development of the pipeline (hotels, restaurants, small businesses, gas stations, etc)