Construction Activities Must Be Halted
RICHMOND, VA — Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of a crucial permit that the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) needs to build across waterways.
Under section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is charged with issuing a permit for the pipeline’s stream crossings that allows the project’s builders to trench through the bottom of those streams, including the Greenbrier, Elk, and Gauley rivers, and fill the crossings with dirt during construction of the pipeline. The permit issued to the Mountain Valley Pipeline by the Corps is commonly known as a “nationwide permit 12,” which takes a one-size-fits-all approach.
The MVP is a 300-mile-long, 42-inch pipeline requiring a 125-foot right of way construction zone that 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 Army Corps of Engineers is unlawful. The effect of today’s court order is to prohibit MVP from construction activities in 591 streams and wetlands in West Virginia and it may affect construction along the entire route of the pipeline. Under its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorization, pipeline construction is allowed only if MVP has secured all federal authorizations.
The court issued the ruling in response to a motion filed by a coalition of environmental advocates, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
In response, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Director Kelly Martin released the following statement:
“Today’s decision shows once again that the Nationwide Permit 12 cannot be used as a one size fits all approach for dirty and dangerous pipelines that pose serious threats to our communities and clean water. Construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline must be halted immediately as the case to protect our water and communities proceeds.”
West Virginia Rivers Coalition Executive Director Angie Rosser released the following statement:
“It brings a sense of relief to see this pause button hit. What we’re seeing is that short-cuts and easy-outs just won’t work for this massive project. Already with MVP, we’re seeing its early construction causing problems for our waters. It’s encouraging that the court agrees a more intensive review of this permit is required before risking any further damage.”
Chesapeake Climate Action Network General Counsel Anne Havemann released the following statement:
“Today’s decision is a validation of what we’ve been saying for years: a one-size-fits-all permit is completely wrong for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The companies behind the harmful and unneeded MVP have pushed regulators to approve key permits such as this one without considering the full scope of its destruction. Today’s court-mandated pause is a welcome opportunity for regulators to take a real look at the impacts of this massive project, which we’re confident will lead them to conclude that there simply is no safe way to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”
Appalachian Voices Virginia Program Manager Peter Anderson released the following statement:
“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.”
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.