Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction Permit Revoked by Federal Court
By Courtney Lindwall
Communities along the 300-mile proposed route for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) heard some good news this week. On Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously voted to vacate a permit required by the Clean Water Act, which was previously issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The ruling stated the Army Corps lacked the authority to substitute one type of construction for another for the natural gas pipeline, which would crisscross rivers and other sensitive aquatic ecosystems hundreds of times between northern West Virginia and southern Virginia.
MVP is one of two pipelines (the other is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline) that have drummed up fierce public backlash across the region. Concerned residents have been peacefully protesting the projects for months, sometimes among the trees they would be helping to save.
The Trump administration hastily approved both pipelines late last year, ignoring the serious risks a spill would pose to the region's watersheds, such as the Chesapeake Bay. Between the two projects, more than 315 acres of critical wetlands are at stake, many of which drain into Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The extra sediment that construction would kick up would also harm fish and other aquatic life.
Tuesday's decision isn't the first time the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has pushed back against the Trump administration's fast-track approval process for environmentally questionable projects. It also pulled a key permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in May after finding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to set clear and adequate limits on its threats to the environment and endangered species.
The court will soon issue an opinion to more thoroughly explain its decision, but the pipeline builders are already saying they're looking for a workaround. So Virginians, keep fighting the good fight, and call on your governor, Ralph Northam, to block the pipeline once and for all.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.