Quantcast

Court Orders Atlantic Coast Pipeline Work Stoppage Over Impact on Endangered Species

Energy
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross the Greenbrier River in West Virginia. West Virginia Rivers Coalition / YouTube screenshot

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.

.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A vegan diet can improve your health, but experts say it's important to keep track of nutrients and protein. Getty Images

By Dan Gray

  • Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
  • A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
  • It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.

New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.

Read More Show Less
Students gathered at the National Mall in Washington DC, Sept. 20. NRDC

By Jeff Turrentine

Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
samael334 / iStock / Getty Images

By Ruairi Robertson, PhD

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.

Read More Show Less
A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less