Debt ceiling deal includes surprise approval of natural gas pipeline championed by Manchin
The text of the debt ceiling bill released on Sunday would approve all the remaining permits to complete the stalled Mountain Valley Pipeline, delivering a big win for West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.
But the backing of the pipeline that would deliver gas from West Virginia into the Southeast is sure to set off bitter complaints from the environmental groups that have fought its construction for years and turned the project into a symbol of their struggle against fossil fuels.
Manchin hailed the bill’s language, saying finishing the pipeline would lower energy costs for the United States and West Virginia.
“I am proud to have fought for this critical project and to have secured the bipartisan support necessary to get it across the finish line,” he said in a statement.
The bill agreed by the White House and House Republicans must still be approved by both chambers of Congress, which is expected to happen in the coming week.
“After working with Speaker McCarthy and reiterating what completing the Mountain Valley Pipeline would mean for American jobs and domestic energy production, I am thrilled it is included in the debt ceiling package that avoids default,” Capito, a Republican, said in a statement. “Despite delay after delay, we continued to fight to get this critical natural gas pipeline up and running, and its inclusion in this deal is a significant victory for the future of West Virginia.”
The project has won support from the White House, which argues the controversial project is needed for U.S. energy security. Its approval comes after the approval of the Willow oil project in Alaska, which activists have said undercuts the Biden administration’s climate promises.
Including the project in the debt bill came as a surprise that wasn’t revealed by either negotiating side until the release of the bill text Sunday night.
The bill approves all outstanding permits for the pipeline, which has suffered court setbacks.