Court Orders Atlantic Coast Pipeline Work Stoppage Over Impact on Endangered Species
Work on the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would carry fracked natural gas along a 600 mile route through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, has been halted by court order and may not resume for several months, The News & Observer reported Monday.
A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia ruled on Friday that work must stop on the pipeline until March, when courts are set to review federal permits that allow the pipeline to operate in the habitat of four endangered species, which wildlife advocates say were rushed.
"When we said we won't stop fighting this dirty, dangerous, unnecessary pipeline, we meant it. Every day that this pipeline isn't operating is a day that it's not hurting our health, water, climate and communities," Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director Kelly Martin said in a statement.
BREAKING: Fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline Halts All Construction. “This latest setback casts serious doubts on… https://t.co/LUuM75AGJB— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1544223167.0
The Sierra Club has joined with other environmental groups including the Virginia Wilderness Committee to sue to stop the pipeline through the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). A case brought by these groups led the courts to vacate two key permits for the project in August. But work resumed when federal agencies issued revised permits in September. It is the revised permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond has once again put on hold until a full legal challenge can be considered.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service scrambled to reissue this permit and its haste is evident in its analysis," SELC attorney Patrick Hunter told WFAE. "This is yet another instance of government agencies rushing out ill-considered permits for this project."
Breaking news: Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction halted after court determines U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit is… https://t.co/sG2tBVe99w— SELC (Environmental Law) (@SELC (Environmental Law))1544220210.0
Dominion Energy, which is building the pipeline with Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and the Southern Company, announced Friday it was stopping construction.
"Dominion Energy, on behalf of Atlantic and itself, has stopped construction on the entire project, except for stand-down activities needed for safety and that are necessary to prevent detriment to the environment," it wrote in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reported by WFAE.
However, the pipeline's builders are also challenging the work stoppage, arguing that the habitat of the species in question only covers 100 miles of the route in Virginia and West Virginia, and that they should be able to continue construction in other areas.
Here are the species at the heart of the dispute, and how pipeline construction could impact them, according to The News & Observer.
1. Indiana Bat
An Indiana batAndrew King, USFWS
The Indiana bat lives along most of the pipeline's route in Virginia and West Virginia. The clearing of trees for the pipeline would compel pregnant female bats to change their flight patterns and make them more vulnerable to predators.
2. Clubshell Mussel
Clubshell mussels USFWS
This freshwater mussel could be buried alive by the dredging and grading required to build the pipeline.
3. Madison Cave Isopod
A Madison cave isopod USFWS Northeast Region / CC BY 2.0
A type of freshwater crustacean, this tiny isopod could be crushed or trapped by digging or blasting by the pipeline builders.
4. Rusty-Patched Bumblebee
A rusty-patched bumblebeeKim Mitchell, USFWS
The rusty patched bumblebee could be hurt or killed by falling of trees cleared to make way for the pipeline.
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Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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