The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied on May 28 a request of the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the owner of the Keystone XL Pipeline to reinstate the Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12) authority of the Corps. A federal district court in Montana had ruled on April 15 that the Corps had violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in issuing the current NWP12 and revoked the Corps’ authority to issue any new permits for pipeline projects to cross streams and rivers. The NWP12 authority will remain invalid until the Ninth Circuit rules on the district court’s decision on the ESA issues. At present, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline do not have valid permits under the Corps’ NWP12 program.
Among the amicus briefs that were filed with the Ninth Circuit in the case was one by Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad) and Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Virginia Wilderness Committee, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and West Virginia Rivers Coalition. In the brief, the groups said that:
. . . proposed gas pipelines like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline have a compounding effect on endangered species—which goes unanalyzed when the Army Corps silos its review and blinds itself to anything other than project-level impacts. Protected species, and amici’s members’ interests in observing and studying those species and their habitats, are harmed by infliction of these unassessed impacts.
A copy of the Appalmad-SELC brief is available here.