Board, council opposition to Mountain Valley Pipeline won't impact final decision

Opponents of Mountain Valley Pipeline hold rally near Tech's campus (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Since announced last September, opposition has grown against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The proposed 300 mile natural gas pipeline would run through Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties.

Many board of supervisors and town councils in those communities have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline, including Rocky Mount last week. Supervisors in Roanoke, Montgomery and Giles counties along with the Blacksburg Town Council have all opposed the pipeline with resolutions.

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But that opposition may be falling on deaf ears. The final decision on the Mountain Valley Pipeline will be made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), not local or state governments.

It's a point Governor Terry McAuliffe, a supporter of the pipeline, made while visiting Roanoke last Friday.

"This is a federal issue. This is not a state issue," he said. "The governor has no say in this pipeline."

"It may be up to the federal government, FERC, but it effects everyone in our area," said Roanoke Co. Supervisor Butch Church, who is against the pipeline.

He believes the board is doing the right thing by publicly opposing it, even if the it's not their decision.

"I think it's just due diligence and I think we're doing absolutely what any governing body should be doing," Church said. "We're representing 96,000 people in the Roanoke Valley, we can't sit by idly and just ask no questions."

The public comment period on the Mountain Valley Pipeline closed last month despite extension requests from congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke) and Morgan Griffith (R-Salem). FERC will allow more public comment once the draft environmental impact study on the proposed project is issued.

A spokesperson with EQT, one of the companies set to build the pipeline, released a statement about the opposition the project has faced.

"Since the initial announcement of our proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project, we have been actively engaged in seeking feedback to help improve upon our project and we genuinely value the input we receive from our stakeholders, including local governments.  We appreciate their questions; we work hard to understand and address their concerns; and we take into consideration all of their thoughtful feedback so that we can continue to improve upon the current proposed route – as it is our goal to design a final proposed route with the least impact to landowners, to the environment, and to cultural resources.  One way for us to demonstrate this commitment is through the identification and evaluation of several alternative routes that collectively address concerns that have been raised by landowners, local governments, and community members. In addition, after meeting and talking with landowners along the route, we have made dozens of modifications to the currently proposed route to avoid certain features on their property.  The MVP project team values and respects our stakeholders, our landowners' properties, and the feedback we receive from all of those who have an interest in our project."