Pipeline opponents cautiously optimistic after work halt

Many wonder what will happen next

ROANOKE, Va. – Many opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are wondering what’s next for the controversial project, after environmental concerns led a federal agency to put the entire project on hold.

Many Roanoke County landowners told 10 News Monday that they're cautiously optimistic about the decision Friday from the Federal Regulatory Commission to issue a stop work order.

Minor Terry, who staged a weekslong tree-sit in the Bent Mountain area with her mother “Red,” said she let out a scream of joy when she saw the news.

"There's definitely a feeling of giddiness amongst everybody. We're trying to keep it in check and realize that this is a temporary stop work order,” she said.

She thinks the protests from her and others have had an impact.

"It's been an exciting weekend,” she said with a wide smile.

She and nearby landowners are taking some time to celebrate.

"This is wonderful news. (I’m) just ecstatic,” landowner Robin Austin said.

MVP workers were out Monday at a Roanoke County worksite near the Blue Ridge Parkway, although they can't continue construction. Landowners near the pipeline’s path are wondering if it could take months for an answer on whether construction will continue.

Other sites around Bent Mountain remain quiet, as they have for months.

Nearby landowners said they know the company is trying to do everything it can to get back to work.

"They're doing these stopgap measures to appease the landowners and the general public but they have no intention of stopping this. It's got to be up to us to stop it,” landowner Jacki Lucki said.

Terry said she hopes the company’s stock drops and the pause in the progress causes the project to not be financially feasible.

"We're hoping that this message reaches their investors and that they jump ship,” she said.

MVP officials have not responded to a 10 News request for comment on how costly the work stoppage could be.

Kate Addleson, director of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club -- an environmental group that’s been filing complaints with regulatory agencies -- said Monday that people should continue to report complaints during the work stoppage.

“It’s clear that (MVP) has a lot of work to do, to go back to the drawing board and ensure that erosion and sediment control and several other areas in the planning that were inadequate -- and inaccurate in some cases -- are addressed moving forward,” Addleson said.

MVP spokeswoman Natalie Cox said Monday that the company is still confident that it will be able to move forward with construction, even with the court’s erosion concerns.

“We will continue to closely coordinate with all agencies to resolve these challenges as they work to have the right-of-way grants reissued,” Cox said in a statement.

Regulatory agencies said they are working to ensure erosion controls. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Ann Regn said the agency will be on-site and will be working with FERC.

Many pipeline opponents are looking forward to an Aug. 21 meeting in Richmond for the State Water Control Board, an advisory committee to Gov. Ralph Northam. Opponents hope the board recommends agencies conduct a stream-by-stream analysis along the pipeline route.