Richmond, VA | POWHR – Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a decision that vacates prior decisions made by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Today’s decision rules that the Mountain Valley Pipeline cannot cross the Jefferson National Forest in Montgomery and Giles County, Virginia and Monroe County, West Virginia. The court concluded that the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management inadequately considered MVP’s sedimentation and erosion impacts, prematurely allowed MVP to use the conventional bore method for stream crossings, and failed to comply with the Forest Service’s 2012 Planning Rule.
In response, Russell Chisholm, Co-Chair of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) Coalition, said: “This decision confirms what those of us on the ground have been saying for years: MVP has caused irreparable harm to our land and must be stopped from imposing further destruction. This is a big hit in the impending downfall of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. This decision will lead to significant delays in the construction of MVP during which our movement will ensure that this pipeline is stopped. If MVP is unfit for the protected Jefferson National Forest, it is unfit for our waters, our land, and our communities, full stop.”
Future of Mountain Valley Pipeline Called into Question as Fracked Gas Project Receives Setback
Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit invalidated the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The court’s decision will prevent construction on this 3.5 mile stretch of federal land. This will protect the Jefferson National Forest and presents yet another setback to the overall project completion.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline project is now three years behind schedule, billions over budget, facing mounting legal hurdles and has racked up fines for more than 350 water quality-related violations in Virginia and West Virginia that have contributed millions of dollars toward the increasing cost of the proposed project. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has denied a key water quality certification for the associated MVP Southgate project, twice, and the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board denied a necessary air permit for the proposed Lambert Compressor Station.
Today’s decision is a result of the legal action filed by the Sierra Club and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of a coalition of conservation organizations, including Wild Virginia, Appalachian Voices, The Wilderness Society, Preserve Craig, Indian Creek Watershed Association and Save Monroe.
The Sierra Club and its allies have previously successfully challenged both the Forest Service and the BLM’s approvals for the pipeline and this newest decision builds upon the setbacks the project faces. Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline has harmed Appalachia’s treasured streams and forested hillsides. Today’s decision prevents this pipeline from endangering the Jefferson National Forest, wildlife and habitats that make up the heart of one of the largest remaining wild landscapes in the eastern United States.
Sierra Club Senior Director of Energy Campaigns, Kelly Sheehan, released the following statement: “Three billion over budget, years behind schedule, and facing mounting legal hurdles, today’s decision makes it highly unlikely that this dirty, dangerous, and unnecessary fracked gas pipeline will ever be completed. MVP has polluted our air and water and damaged wildlife habitat. Enough already, it's time for MVP to call it quits.”
Russell Chisholm, Co-Chair of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) Coalition, said: “This decision confirms what those of us on the ground have been saying for years: MVP has caused irreparable harm to our land and must be stopped from imposing further destruction. This is a big hit in the impending downfall of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. This decision will lead to significant delays in the construction of MVP during which our movement will ensure that this pipeline is stopped. If MVP is unfit for the protected Jefferson National Forest, it is unfit for our waters, our land, and our communities, full stop.”
Peter Anderson, Virginia Policy Director, for Appalachian Voices said “We have maintained that the Mountain Valley Pipeline cannot be built through this landscape without lasting damage to sensitive forests, habitats, and waters. Now the Fourth Circuit has agreed with us for the second time that federal agencies failed to show that the pipeline can comply with the law. It is long past time for the MVP’s investors to abandon this harmful project.”
David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s Conservation Director, stated: “Once again, the court has found that the Forest Service and BLM neglected their duties to look after the public and our precious natural treasures. We have to ask, when will these agencies put the wider interests before those of profit-making corporations? This is yet another demonstration of the reasons MVP should never be completed.”
Howdy Henritz, Indian Creek Watercreek Association and Save Monroe stated: “Finally the facts have caught up with MVP’s unrealistic claims and unjustifiable assault on Peters Mountain, the Appalachian Trail and other public treasures within the Jefferson National Forest.”
“Today’s ruling is a critical victory for the Jefferson National Forest, its treasured landscape, and an intact forest ecosystem,” said Ben Tettlebaum, Senior Staff Attorney at The Wilderness Society. “The true heroes are the local communities who have been fighting this land, water, and climate-killing gas pipeline since its inception. Now is the time for the Forest Service and BLM to prioritize our cherished public lands and the courageous people who dare to protect them over this ill-conceived, destructive, and doomed pipeline.”
About the Sierra Club The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, 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.
About the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) is an interstate coalition leading the fight to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The coalition includes individuals and groups from counties in Virginia and West Virginia dedicated to protecting water, land, and communities from fossil fuel.