Just a day after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers re-issued permits for the prospective Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline to begin construction, a petition filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by the Sierra Club and seven other environmental groups challenged the decision. At issue is Mountain Valley’s plan to cross nearly 1000 streams and rivers by one of two ways: either by boring under them or using dams and pumping systems to temporarily divert water, dig trenches along dry beds, bury the 42-inch diameter pipe some 6 feet deep and then restore the current to its original flow.
Back in 2018, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a corps-issued permit violated a West Virginia regulatory requirement that pipeline stream crossings must be completed within 72 hours to limit enviromental harm.
Mountain Valley says there is a public need for the 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to be pumped at high pressure through the pipeline, which will run from northern West Virginia, through Southwest Virginia, and connect with an existing pipeline near the North Carolina line.
Yet the project is running two years behind schedule, principally due to the legal challenges.
“The Corps has gone ahead and authorized MVP to dig and blast through our streams despite its full knowledge that it has not met its legal obligations or done what’s necessary to protect some of our most valuable and sensitive species,” David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s conservation director, said in an email.
A spokesman for the agency said Monday that it could not comment because of the litigation. No decision on a request for an administrative stay had been recorded on FERC’s online docket by the end of the day.
In addition to the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Wild Virginia, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and the Indian Creek Watershed Association are all part of the legal challenge.