Coalition challenges FERC approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline
WASHINGTON, DC — Late yesterday, a coalition of environmental groups took legal action in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to halt start of construction of the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline, challenging the “certificate of public convenience and necessity” issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Attorneys for Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed the litigation on behalf of the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and Wild Virginia.
The groups also filed a motion to stay the start of construction given the tremendous harmful impacts posed by the 300-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline.
FERC approved the pipeline in October in a 2-1 decision, despite the significant risks the Mountain Valley Pipeline poses to streams, rivers and drinking water sources and to treasured Appalachian landscapes, and despite evidence that existing pipeline capacity is sufficient. If built, the pipeline would cut through a 3.5-mile stretch of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and West Virginia, cross the Appalachian Trail at a previously undisturbed site, and cross waterways more than 1,000 times in the two states, posing a high risk of widespread water contamination. It would also significantly increase emissions that contribute to climate change, displacing public and private investments in energy efficiency, solar and other non-carbon based alternatives that cause far less environmental harm.
In response, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Director Kate Addleson released the following statement:
“We are bringing this suit to stop the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline because it threatens land, streams and rivers that are an important part of Virginia’s culture and economy. This pipeline would cause irreversible harm to our air, water, and communities, so we are evaluating every avenue we have to ensure it never gets built.”
David Sligh, Conservation Director for Wild Virginia, stated:
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission failed in its legal duty to assess the true costs of this project to the communities that would be harmed and the natural treasures that would be degraded or destroyed. A true accounting could not have led to the conclusion that this ill-conceived proposal is in the public interest. Citizens are forced to seek protection from the courts that we should have been afforded by FERC.”
West Virginia Rivers Coalition Executive Director Angie Rosser:
“FERC failed to follow the law; in so doing, it is recklessly sacrificing our streams, public lands and private property rights. Their refusal to fully evaluate the purpose and need of this project robs the public of benefiting from less harmful alternatives. FERC’s shoddy approval of MVP makes a mockery of their responsibility to the public interest.”
Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager for Appalachian Voices, stated:
“Dissenting FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur concluded that this project is not in the public interest — and with good reason. Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline would devastate communities in West Virginia and Virginia, threatening their water and permanently damaging pristine mountain landscapes to transport natural gas that is not needed. We must hold FERC accountable for failing to evaluate the need for this project in a rational manner, and for dismissing the legitimate environmental concerns outlined by its staff and the public.”
Anne Havemann, General Counsel for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated:
“From coastal flooding to monster hurricanes to ravaging wildfires, climate change is impacting the critical systems that support life on our planet–right now. The Mountain Valley Pipeline for fracked-gas would dramatically increase greenhouse gas emissions, while also trampling property rights, harming water quality, and permanently scarring pristine mountains. We are going to court to ask it to do what FERC failed to do — protect the public interest and halt construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”
Doug Jackson, Sierra Club, 202-495-3045 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Luckett, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, 304.645.0125, email@example.com
Peter Anderson, Appalachian Voices, 434-293-6373, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Havemann, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240-396-1984, email@example.com
David Sligh, Wild Virginia 434-964-7455, firstname.lastname@example.org
Angie Rosser, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, 304-437-1274, email@example.com