Will the US Court of Appeals Halt Construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline?

by Duane Nichols on July 6, 2018

Time Out to protect our environment

Federal Court asked to halt ACP construction activity

From Lew Freeman, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, July 5, 2018

A motion was filed late today with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, asking that construction activity on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) be halted until the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) complies with the particulars of the Court’s May 15 order vacating the FWS’s Incidental Take Statement for the ACP. The motion was filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club and Virginia Wildlife Committee.

The 4th Circuit’s Order had stated:

” . . . we conclude, for reasons to be more fully explained in a forthcoming opinion, that the limits set by the agency are so indeterminate that they undermine the Incidental Take Statement’s enforcement and monitoring function under the Endangered Species Act. Accordingly, we VACATE the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Incidental Take Statement.”

While it has been over 7 weeks since the Order was issued, the 4th Circuit has yet to issue an opinion explaining the reasons for its decision and the actions that FWS should take.

Today’s SELC motion argues that notwithstanding the May 15 4th Circuit Order, ACP “is racing ahead with construction, including
within habitat of endangered species. An injunction is necessary to stop the potential take of species and to prevent foreclosure of reasonable and prudent alternatives that FWS may require to satisfy its ESA obligations, following the Court’s opinion. An injunction will ensure FWS can appropriately respond to this Court’s instructions and will prevent unnecessary, imminent, and irreparable harm.”

SELC, on behalf of the same three clients, on June 11 requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission revoke its May 11 authorization for construction of the ACP in West Virginia given the 4th Circuit Order. To date, FERC has not responded to that request, and in fact has authorized on two separate occasions further work and construction waivers for the ACP.

A copy of the SELC motion filed today with the 4th Circuit is available at: https://www.abralliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Motion-for-Injunction-4th-Circuit-on-ESA-issue-7-5-18.pdf

>>>>> Lewis Freeman, ​Executive Director, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance​, lewfreeman@gmail.com

See also: Virginia officials quietly weakened pipeline standards protecting water

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Virginia Mercury News July 25, 2018 at 9:51 am

ACP Pipeline gets approval to start N.C. construction

From the Virginia Mercury News, July 24, 2018

Of the three states that the controversial 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is proposed to cross, Virginia is the last where construction remains off limits, for now.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave the Dominion Energy-led natural gas pipeline approval to begin full construction in North Carolina Tuesday, even though a federal court in Richmond recently vacated a key U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assessment of the dangers construction poses to endangered and threatened species along the route.

FERC has agreed with the pipeline’s contention that the so-called incidental take statement only applies to certain portions of the route in Virginia and West Virginia. Opponents have argued that, without a valid statement, the project cannot proceed at all and are seeking an injunction to halt construction. Some construction has begun in West Virginia, but the project still lacks key environmental approvals from Virginia’s state environmental agency.

See Here: “Atlantic Coast Pipeline gets permission to begin North Carolina construction – Virginia Mercury”



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