Besides much-needed permitting reform, the Fiscal Responsibility Act was also supposed to streamline the long-challenged Mountain Valley Pipeline—until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit halted construction last week. Though Congress had included moved jurisdiction over the pipeline to the D.C. Circuit, as well as including provisions in the FRA that expedited construction of the project, environmentalists, members of the Virginia congressional delegation, and some law exports have argued that Congress violated the Constitution. The pair of rulings released by the Fourth circuit has now set the stage for the case to end up at the Supreme Court.
Sen. Joe Manchin (WV-D) said in a statement, “the law passed by Congress and signed by the president is clear — the Fourth Circuit no longer has jurisdiction over Mountain Valley Pipeline’s construction permits.” Additionally, the Justice Department “backed the pipeline,” according to The New York Times, submitting briefs to the Fourth Circuit appeals court that support “a motion to dismiss the appeals challenging Mountain Valley Pipeline’s right of way through Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Manchin filed an Amicus Curiae with the Supreme Court in support of the pipeline. Citing sections from the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Sen. Manchin notes that energy infrastructure projects cannot continue to be delayed. He writes, “yet again, this vital energy infrastructure project has been put on hold by the Fourth Circuit despite the new law clearly stating that the Fourth Circuit no longer has this authority. We cannot let this continue any longer.” The future of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is now uncertain. The legal battle could have wide-ranging implications regarding Congresses’ ability to override the courts.