RICHMOND, V.A. – The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with conservation groups on Monday and issued an immediate stay of Mountain Valley Pipeline’s stream and wetland crossing permits in southern West Virginia and Virginia, according to a press release from The Center for Biological Diversity.
According to the release, the groups, noting the company’s stated rush to resume construction and the serious environmental harms likely to result, had asked the court for the stay while it considered the merits of their challenge of the water-crossing permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Officials explained that the eight groups, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates, filed a challenge of the Corps’ Sept. 25 reissuance of two Nationwide Permit 12 approvals that would allow Mountain Valley to dig through some 1,000 streams, rivers, wetlands, and other water bodies in the two states. The 4th Circuit had rejected the Corps’ first round of permit approvals in 2018.
“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,” said Peter Anderson, Virginia program manager at Appalachian Voices.
As noted in the groups’ filings, Mountain Valley Pipeline’s operator recently told its investors that it intends to blast and trench through “critical” streams “as quickly as possible before anything is challenged.”
The court had issued an emergency stay Oct. 16. Today’s stay remains in effect until the court rules on the groups’ petition to overturn the Corps’ water permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project.
The groups filing the challenge include Appalachian Voices, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Wild Virginia.
“This decision will help ensure the pipeline doesn’t keep posing catastrophic threats to waterways that people and imperiled species depend on to survive,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “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.”
“Once again, the court has shown that it sees the dire threat this dangerous and damaging project poses to our precious waters and vulnerable communities,” said David Sligh, conservation director with Wild Virginia. “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. 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.”
“The companies behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline have proven countless times that they are unfit to build this pipeline safely, with hundreds of violations and thousands of dollars in fines already,” said Anne Havemann, general counsel of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “They’ve done nothing to prove that future construction won’t result in the same. We applaud the court for standing on the right side of history and issuing this stay.”
“The MVP has already doubled its timeline and budget, and it’s not even close to being finished,” said Joan Walker, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign. “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.”