Federal Court Halts Mountain Valley Pipeline

The news broke over the weekend that a federal court approved our motion to “stay”, or put a halt to, construction across 591 stream crossings by the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in West Virginia. This action is in response to a challenge filed by Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of West Virginia Rivers, Sierra Club, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to suspend an unlawful permit.

The permit, known as the Nationwide 12 administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, deals with dredge and fill approvals of rivers and streams crossings. Being a “nationwide” permit, it treats all crossings as “one size fits all” versus analyzing each crossing individually. The court’s ruling signals that MVP is ineligible for the Nationwide 12 permit.

Five Facts on the Mountain Valley Pipeline Stream Crossing Stay

  1. Permit Ineligibility. The Fourth Circuit Court issued the stay because of issues related to the time MVP said it would take to complete river crossings. In our court challenge, we found that the MVP would not be in compliance with timeline requirements stipulated by the Nationwide 12 permit.
  2. Four Rivers. Our challenge specifically pointed out the crossings of the Gauley, Elk, Greenbrier and Meadow Rivers. The Nationwide 12 requires these crossings be completed within 72-hours. However, we discovered that MVP says the crossings of these four rivers would take 4-6 weeks.
  3. 591 stream crossings.The court’s decision suspends any construction on 591 total streams in WV. Because the 4 rivers cannot meet the Nationwide 12 permit conditions, now the Nationwide 12 cannot be used for any of the crossings by this pipeline. MVP will likely need to apply for an individual permit for their stream crossings, a process that could take many months.
  4. Violations. Just days before the court’s decision, WVDEP issued two water pollution violation notices for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. In all, MVP has been cited four times for failure to protect water quality.
  5. Atlantic Coast Pipeline.The Mountain Valley Pipeline isn’t alone in its permit inadequacies. WV Rivers and partners sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers requesting a re-evaluation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Nationwide 12.

As this story continues to develop WV Rivers will keep you updated! Be sure to “like” WV Rivers on Facebook for breaking news and actions you can take to protect our water.

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