Quantcast
Energy
A Virginia farm along the proposed path of the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Norm Shafer / Washington Post / Getty Images

Second Controversial Fracked Gas Pipeline Runs Into Legal Trouble

August is off to a good start for environmental groups and communities in Virginia and West Virginia who oppose two pipelines that would carry fracked natural gas through the region.


Three days after the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered work to pause on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, its sister pipeline also ran into legal trouble.

A federal appeals court on Monday vacated two permits required by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to complete its 600 mile project beginning in West Virginia and traveling through Virginia to North Carolina, The Associated Press reported.

"There is no right way to build these dirty, dangerous fossil fuel projects, and people in Virginia and across the country will continue to come together to fight them until they are permanently halted," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune told The Associated Press.

The Sierra Club was one of the groups, along with Defenders of Wildlife and the Virginia Wilderness Committee, that brought the case that led to the ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was argued by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The court ruled that the a National Park Service (NPS) permit allowing the pipeline to pass under the Blue Ridge Parkway was invalid because it did not explain how the pipeline's construction would not contradict the scenic purpose of the parkway, which connects Virginia's Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Construction would require cutting enough trees that a gap in the forest would be visible from at least one parkway observation point.

Chief Judge Roger Gregory called the permit "arbitrary and capricious" in his ruling.

"Arbitrary and capricious" were also the words used by the court to justify vacating a second permit granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because it didn't specify any limits to the pipeline's impact on five threatened or endangered species.

The revoking of the second permit built on a ruling in May, in which the court initially found that the "incidental take statement," which is the statement that sets limits on the impact of projects on vulnerable species, was not sufficiently clear.

Following that initial ruling, the pipeline's builders said they would suspend construction along 21 miles in West Virginia and 79 miles in Virginia until a new "incidental take statement" was completed.

In a footnote to Monday's ruling, the court said that revoking the permits meant that FERC's approval of the pipeline was invalid until new permits were issued, since that approval was contingent on satisfactory permits.

"Absent such authorizations, ACP, should it continue to proceed with construction, would violate FERC'S certificate of public convenience and necessity," the footnote said, according to The Associated Press.

Environmental Law Center senior attorney D.J. Gerken thought the ruling would be a huge stumbling block for the project.

"Today's decision means Atlantic has to go back to the drawing board," he told The Associated Press.

Dominion Energy, the company leading development on the project, disagreed.

"We believe the Court's concerns can be promptly addressed through additional review by the agencies without causing unnecessary delay to the project," the company said in a written statement reported by The Associated Press.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Fossil fuel use is the primary source of CO2. eflon / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Trump EPA Takes Credit For Obama-Era CO2 Reductions

Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.7 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to a report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on Wednesday.

Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the EPA, touted that the report shows that regulations are unnecessary to slash carbon emissions.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Pacific bluefin tuna. OpenCage.info

Big Bluefin Tuna Recovering Due to Conservation, But Species Still at Risk

Although Pacific bluefin tuna remains a fraction of its historic population, the giant fish is making a comeback off the California coast after a eight-decade hiatus, due to global conservation efforts, Reuters reported.

The world's love of sushi and rampant overfishing has nearly decimated the species. Its population recently bumped to a meager 3.3 percent of its unfished level, up from its low of 2.6 percent two years ago, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Study urges conservation push for critically endangered black rhinos. CC0 1.0

Humans Are Wiping Out Species So Fast That Evolution Can't Keep Up

With the consequences of human activities pushing Earth into a sixth mass extinction, a team of biologists have calculated that plant and animal species are being wiped out so quickly that evolution cannot keep up.

Human activities—including pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, poaching, warming oceans and extreme weather events tied to climate change—are predicted to drive so many mammals to extinction in the next five decades that nature will need somewhere between 3 to 7 million years to restore biodiversity levels to where it was before modern humans evolved, according to an alarming new analysis published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Mackinaw Bridge, Michigan. Deb Nystrom / CC BY 2.0

Great Lakes Pipeline Dispute Highlights a Broader Energy Dilemma

By Douglas Bessette

A deal involving an aging oil pipeline in Michigan reflects the complex decisions communities across the country need to make to balance the needs for energy and safety with efforts to deal with climate change.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Enbridge, a Canadian company, have reached an agreement over a leak-prone pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the four-mile-long waterway that divides Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Christoph Schmidt / Picture Alliance / Getty Images

Antibiotics in Burgers: Majority of U.S. Fast Food Chains Fail Annual Report Card

By Lena Brook

Less than two weeks ago, JBS USA, one of our country's largest meat processors, announced a high-risk recall of nearly 7 million pounds of its raw beef, over concerns it may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport. Nearly 60 patients in 16 states have so far been made sick. This recent outbreak of infections tied to contaminated ground beef is especially worrisome because S. Newport is a strain of Salmonella that has often been resistant to antibiotics. It may also be the largest beef recall in history for Salmonella.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Daniel Bruno / iStock / Getty Images Plus

How to Make Apple Kombucha

By Brian Barth

René Redzepi and David Zilber talk us through how to make a delicious Fall kombucha from their new release The Noma Guide to Fermentation.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Thom Yorke performs at Madison Square Garden in July. Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

Thom Yorke of Radiohead Releases Song With Greenpeace to Help Antarctica

Greenpeace is on a mission to create the largest protected area on earth in Antarctica, and it just gained a very talented ally to help promote that goal.

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke released a single Tuesday in support of the campaign called "Hands Off Antarctica," The Guardian reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
"The Golden Couple" by Marsel van Oosten. Natural History Museum

'Otherworldly' Photo of Endangered Monkeys Wins Top Award

Dutch photographer Marsel van Oosten was awarded the prestigious title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his surreal portrait of a pair of golden snub-nosed monkeys.

"The Golden Couple" shows a male and female snub-nosed monkey sitting on a stone in the temperate forest of China's Qinling Mountains. The endangered species, named in part for their golden-reddish fur and flattened noses, are endemic to the area.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!