Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Court Halts Key Permits for Mountain Valley Pipeline

Energy
Court Halts Key Permits for Mountain Valley Pipeline
The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens water sources, species habitat, and scenery along the Appalachian Trail. Thomas Cizauskas / Flickr

Opponents of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline won a reprieve Monday when a federal court issued a stay on key permits that the pipeline needs to cross streams and rivers.


The project, which would carry fracked natural gas through around 300 miles of Virginia and West Virginia, was given a go-ahead in October by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to restart construction along most of its route following years of legal challenges. The pipeline has already racked up at least 350 environmental regulations and $2.26 million in fines. The environmental groups behind the suit noted that the pipeline operators had told investors they wanted to blast through "critical" streams "as quickly as possible before anything is challenged," the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reported in a press release emailed to EcoWatch.

"Communities along the pipeline route have been on edge these past several weeks as the company has moved in heavy equipment and started doing work, so we're very glad the court pressed pause on this permit while the water-crossing issues are reviewed further," Peter Anderson, Virginia program manager at Appalachian Voices, said in the press release.

CBD and Appalachian Voices are two of the groups behind the lawsuit, along with Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Wild Virginia. The coalition was represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates.

The stay is part of a larger challenge brought by the groups to permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers in September that would allow the pipeline to cross around 1,000 streams, rivers, wetlands and other waterways. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the first two Army Corps permits in 2018, and pipeline opponents hope it will reject the second pair as well.

The court issued an emergency stay of the permits Oct. 16. Monday's stay will last until the court can make a definitive ruling on the new permits. The environmental groups argue that the new permits violate the Army Corps' responsibility to protect endangered species, Bloomberg Law reported.

"This decision will help ensure the pipeline doesn't keep posing catastrophic threats to waterways that people and imperiled species depend on to survive," CBD senior attorney Jared Margolis said in the press release. "Despite the project's clear failure to comply with the law, Mountain Valley keeps pushing this climate-killing menace. We'll continue working to ensure this destructive pipeline doesn't poison waters and threaten communities along its route."

The pipeline is being built by Equitrans, NextEra Energy, Consolidated Edison Inc, AltaGas Ltd and RGC Resources Inc, according to Reuters. Equitrans spokeswoman Natalie Cox said that the stay was disappointing, but that construction would continue along other parts of the route.

"We are hopeful and expect that once the case is reviewed on the merits of the arguments there will be a different conclusion," Cox told Reuters.

However, Wild Virginia Conservation Director David Sligh said the stay was a good sign for the pipeline's opponents.

"Convincing a court to stay an agency decision requires plaintiffs to convince the judges that they have a good chance to prove their case after full review," Sligh noted in the press release. "Now, we look forward to doing just that — to show conclusively that the Corps of Engineers abdicated its duty to protect us and our resources."

Reuters noted that the Mountain Valley Pipeline is one of several fossil fuel pipelines that has been granted approval by the Trump administration only to run into delays as environmental and community groups bring legal challenges. When construction on the pipeline began in Feb. 2018, Equitrans estimated it would cost around $3.5 billion and be completed by the end of the year. The price tag has now nearly doubled to as much as $6 billion.

Another pipeline in the same region, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, was canceled by its owners in July following similar opposition and delays.

"The MVP has already doubled its timeline and budget, and it's not even close to being finished," Joan Walker, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign, said in the press release. "If they were smart, they would quit throwing good money after bad and walk away from this fracked gas disaster like Duke Energy and Dominion Energy did with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline."

A group of climate activists that have been cycling from the North of the country in stages to draw attention to the climate case are arriving to the Court of Justice on the day that the climate lawsuit against Shell starts in The Hague, on December 1st, 2020. Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Representing more than 17,000 claimants who support climate action, the international organization Friends of the Earth on Tuesday opened its case against fossil fuel giant Shell at The Hague by demanding that a judge order the corporation to significantly reduce its carbon emissions in the next decade.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Eat Just, Inc. announced that its cultured chicken has been approved for sale in Singapore as an ingredient in chicken bites. The company has developed other cultured chicken formats as well. Eat Just

As concern mounts over the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, Singapore has issued the world's first regulatory approval for lab-grown meat.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Wildfires are seen burning out of control on November 30, 2020 on Fraser Island, Australia. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services / Getty Images

The world's largest sand island has been on fire for the past six weeks due to a campfire, and Australia's firefighters have yet to prevent flames from destroying the fragile ecosystem.

Read More Show Less
A plane sprays pesticide over the Wynwood neighborhood in the hope of controlling and reducing the number of mosquitos, some of which may be capable of spreading the Zika virus on Aug. 6, 2016 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A national nonprofit revealed Tuesday that testing commissioned by the group as well as separate analysis conducted by Massachusetts officials show samples of an aerially sprayed pesticide used by the commonwealth and at least 25 other states to control mosquito-borne illnesses contain toxic substances that critics call "forever chemicals."

Read More Show Less
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern plants a tree as part of Trees That Count, a project to help New Zealand make a positive impact on climate change, on June 30, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

The government of New Zealand declared a climate emergency on Wednesday, a symbolic step recognizing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions of substantial global warming if emissions do not fall.

Read More Show Less