In the wake of two decisions by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacating three permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was asked on February 7 to issue a stop-work order “halting all construction activity” that has been authorized by FERC for the MVP. The motion was filed by Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad) on behalf of 11 conservation groups.
On January 25, the Fourth Circuit vacated authorizations for the MVP that had been issued by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for the pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest. (See article in the January 28 ABRA Update.)
On February 3, the Fourth Circuit vacated the biological opinion (BiOp) and Incidental Take Statement (ITC) for the MVP that had been issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). In its opinion, the Fourth Circuit held that the FWS had “failed to adequately evaluate the ‘environmental baseline’ and ‘cumulative effects’ for … the Roanoke logperch and the candy darter” and “that the agency neglected to fully consider the impacts of climate change.”
In the motion filed with FERC on behalf of the conservat3ion groups, Appalmad noted that allowing construction of the MVP to proceed in the absence of a valid BiOp and ITC would constitute a clear violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Continuing, the motion declared:
- “Allowing construction to proceed would not only contravene FERC’s Natural Gas Act public interest obligations and violate the express terms of the ESA, but would also create further ‘bureaucratic momentum’ that places undue pressure on the outstanding federal agency permitting processes.”
- “Allowing Mountain Valley to construct the pipeline so that the ‘completed segments would stand like gun barrels pointing into the heartland’ of the national forest lands and endangered species habitat would inevitably, and improperly, influence the Forest Service and FWS’s decisions.”
For a copy of the stop-work order filed with FERC, click here.