Mountain Valley Pipeline to cost more, take longer to build

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The lead partner in the Mountain Valley Pipeline venture has pushed back its expected completion date and says costs for the project are expected to rise.

The Roanoke Times reported Tuesday that the news comes from Equitrans Midstream Corp. It’s the lead partner in the joint venture of five energy companies.

The company has faced environmental problems and legal challenges while building the natural gas pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia. It had expected to finish construction early next year. But it’s now targeting a full in-service date “during the second half of 2021.”

The cost was estimated to be $3.7 billion when construction started. But it now stands somewhere between $5.8 billion and $6 billion.

The increase in costs was attributed largely to continuing construction through the winter. That’s what Mountain Valley plans to do in order to make up time lost to legal challenges.

Environmentalist groups have said the buried pipeline will clog streams and rivers with harmful sediment from construction sites and jeopardize endangered species.

A federal appeals court temporarily stayed steam-crossing permits last month while it considers the case. Approval for the pipeline to pass through the Jefferson National Forest is still pending.

A lawsuit also was filed last week against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its conclusion that the pipeline would not jeopardize protected species.