A Modern Day Threat to the AT: The Proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a proposed high pressure natural gas pipeline that would run from Wetzel county, West Virginia to a processing station in Pittsylvania County, Virginia spanning 301 miles of public and private land. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC has been contracted to do this work for various energy companies including EQT Midstream Partners, NextEra US Gas Assets, WGL Midstream, and Vega Midstream MVP.

The company has the power (issued by the federal government) to use eminent domain to allow construction on both private and public land. The pipeline has not been officially approved just yet with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) having the last say in the approval process. However, this decision is scheduled to happen early in 2017.

This area of southwestern Virginia is the home of the iconic “Triple Crown” of Virginia – Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee’s Knob and Tinker Cliffs – all of which are significant overlooks on the Appalachian Trail. This is a place rich in resources, Appalachian settlers history, and an area through which thousands of hikers pass each year.

The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club estimates that over 76,000 hikers and backpackers hike McAfee’s Knob annually. If approved, this pipeline has the potential to forever scar over 100 miles of land on or within sight of the Appalachian Trail where it would run over Peters Mountain and cross the AT.

The proposed pipeline crossing also fails to meet numerous criteria in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s 2015 Policy on pipeline crossings. So far, Mountain Valley Pipeline has disregarded the recommendations from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) with regard to the least damaging route across this unique national park. MVP’s lack of respectful cooperation is unprecedented in the history of the ATC.

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