Environmental Advocates Take Step Toward Stopping Construction Activities Tied to Nationwide Permit 12
RICHMOND, VA — Today, a coalition of environmental advocates filed a petition for judicial review that could again halt construction of the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Less than a week after their legal efforts led to the cessation of MVP’s construction activities in 591 streams and wetlands in West Virginia, the coalition is trying to do the same in Virginia.
Today’s petition is filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and targets the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in the Norfolk District because last week’s ruling was in response to legal filings in the Huntington, WV district and could be limited to the section of the pipeline in that district.
Under section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Corps is charged with issuing a permit for a pipeline’s stream crossings that allows the project’s builders to trench through the bottom of those streams and fill the crossings with dirt during construction. The permit issued to the MVP by the Corps is commonly known as a “nationwide permit 12,” which takes a one-size-fits-all approach.
The MVP is proposed to be 300 miles long and would cross streams, rivers and other waters in West Virginia and Virginia more than 1,000 times. Because MVP’s own documents shows it cannot meet the conditions required under the nationwide 404 permit in West Virginia, the streamlined permit issued by the Corps is unlawful. Under the Corps’ regulations, if even a single stream crossing is ineligible for nationwide permit 12, then a pipeline cannot use that permit for any of its other crossings.
The coalition of advocates behind today’s filing includes New River Conservancy, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Sierra Club and is represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
In response, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Director Kelly Martin released the following statement:
“The Nationwide Permit 12 cannot be used as a one-size-fits-all approach for dirty and dangerous pipelines that threaten our communities and clean water. The fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline has already caused serious problems in Virginia and construction must be halted immediately as the case to protect our water and communities proceeds.”
Anne Havemann, Senior Counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network stated:
“A one-size-fits-all permit is completely wrong for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, no matter if that’s in West Virginia or in Virginia. Regulators need to take a real look at the impacts from this unneeded and devastating pipeline — a blanket approach is simply unacceptable.”
Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager for Appalachian Voices stated:
“Directly impacted communities in Virginia deserve the same protection from this destructive project as those in West Virginia. The Mountain Valley Pipeline cannot cross waters without damaging water quality. Not only is the blanket Nationwide Permit 12 inappropriate for projects of this size, but project de
“Putting the breaks on in-stream construction activity for the Mountain Valley Pipeline while the court performs its full review not only makes sense, it is also the only just outcome for communities directly impacted by this destructive project. MVP’s inability to cross rivers in compliance with the conditions of the permit is the most obvious – but certainly not the only – reason why blanket permits should not be used for projects of this size. An individual permit considering the full impact of constructing a 42-inch diameter pipeline through steep terrain and sensitive water bodies should be required.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.
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