Biden administration approves vital permit for West Virginia pipeline
The project has been a key priority of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has championed permitting reform measures to expedite its completion, even as the project remains years behind schedule.
The United States Forest Service on Monday approved a permit for a pipeline to run through more than three miles of the Jefferson National Forest, clearing a pivotal hurdle for the energy project that has attracted considerable backlash from environmental activists.
The $6.6 billion project aims to transport gas from West Virginia's Marcellus shale fields into Virginia, according to the New York Times. The project has been a key priority of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has championed permitting reform measures to expedite its completion, even as the project remains years behind schedule.
Manchin had egg on his face last year after making a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to trade his vote on the Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for a separate measure reforming the permit process for infrastructure projects in a manner that could have streamlined the Mountain Valley Pipeline's completion.
While Manchin honored his end of the deal, Schumer was unable to muster enough Democratic support for the proposal to uphold his end of the bargain, leaving the West Virginia Democrat in the cold.
Even the Forest Service's sign off does not ensure the project's completion, however, as the permit's issuance is likely to attract legal challenges. Moreover, the Bureau of Land Management must give its assent to the interstate project, the Times noted.
The development, however, may prove a boon for Manchin, who has had little to show for his deal with Schumer thus far. The moderate Democrat remains a key swing vote in the narrowly divided Senate, however, and the Biden administration needs his support to secure the approval of the upper chamber for its legislative priorities.
Manchin remains one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats in the 2024 cycle, however, as he represents a state that broke decidedly for Trump in 2020 and has largely backed Republicans in statewide contests in recent cycles.
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.