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Biden, McCarthy debt deal would speed up Mountain Valley gas pipeline

May 07, 2023

WASHINGTON, May 28 (Reuters) - U.S. energy company Equitrans Midstream Corp's (ETRN.N) long-delayed $6.6 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline could win federal approval as part of Washington's debt limit deal.

Streamlined federal approval for the 303-mile (488-km) project was placed into the text of the budget deal between U.S. President Joe Biden and House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy that may end the debt limit crisis.

The pipeline is backed by Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote is often needed since the Democrats hold a thin majority in that body.

The pipeline's approval has been delayed amid negative court rulings and has been opposed by environmental groups. The text of the House budget bill expedites the pipeline's federal permits and limits judicial review.

In early May, Equitrans said it could finish the pipe by the end of 2023, but noted "there remains significant risk and uncertainty, including regarding current and likely litigation."

When Mountain Valley construction started in February 2018, Equitrans estimated the 2-billion-cubic-feet-per-day (bcfd) project that stretches from West Virginia to Virginia would cost about $3.5 billion and enter service by late 2018.

The pipeline, which would unlock gas supplies from Appalachia, the country's biggest shale gas basin, still needs review and permitting including in West Virginia. The project could still be held up or blocked by lawsuits from opponents.

Mountain Valley is owned by units of Equitrans, NextEra Energy Inc (NEE.N), Consolidated Edison Inc (ED.N), AltaGas Ltd (ALA.TO) and RGC Resources Inc (RGCO.O).

(This story has been refiled to correct the spelling of 'whose' in paragraph 3)

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