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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.
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."
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.
- Risky and Unnecessary Natural Gas Pipelines Threaten Our Region ... ›
- 10 Reasons to Stop Mtn. Valley & Atlantic Coast Pipelines | NRDC ›
- Environmental groups file petition to stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline ... ›
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."