Mountain Valley Pipeline Halted by Federal Court at Jefferson National Forest

by Duane Nichols on July 28, 2018

National Forests are intended to protect our forest heritage

Authority for MVP to Cross Jefferson National Forest Vacated

Update from Wild Virginia, Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance, July 27, 2018

The decision of the U.S. Forest Service to permit the Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest was vacated July 27 by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The challenge to that decision had been brought by Sierra Club, Wild Virginia, Appalachian Voices and other groups. In its decision, the Court stated:

After careful review, we conclude that aspects of the Forest Service’s decision fail to comply with NEPA and the NFMA. As more fully explained below, we grant the petition challenging the Forest Service’s decision and vacate that decision. We also conclude that the BLM failed to acknowledge its obligations under the MLA, and therefore, we also grant the petition challenging the BLM decision and vacate that decision. We remand to the respective agencies for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

In analyzing the opinion, a copy of which is available here, Wild Virginia said it convinced the Court on its primary claims:

• The Forest Service was arbitrary in concluding that sedimentation and erosion impacts of the pipeline could be mitigated to insignificance.
• The Forest Service violated the 2012 Forest Planning Rule, by arbitrarily concluding that amendments to the forest plan were not “directly related” to particular provisions of that rule. Specifically, the Forest Service ignored the “purpose” of the amendments, which was squarely directly related to the rule.
• BLM violated the Mineral Leasing Act by failing to demonstrate that alternative routes that would increase co-location with existing rights-of-way were impractical.

See also: Federal appeals court delivers blow to Mountain Valley Pipeline |

Tree cutting has already started on Peters Mountain


FERC Asked to Revoke ACP Construction Authority in West Virginia

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been asked to rehear its decision last month to authorize construction in West Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In a motion filed with the agency on July 24 by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) on behalf of Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the Virginia Wilderness Committee, FERC was requested to grant a rehearing and to immediately revoke the West Virginia Notice to Proceed.

The motion notes that “on May 15, 2018 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Incidental Take Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Therefore, Atlantic and Dominion are not in compliance with two mandatory conditions of the project’s Certificate Order: Environmental Condition 54 and Environmental Condition 10. Certificate Order, Appendix A, ¶¶ 10, 54. Both of these conditions require a valid incidental take statement before pipeline construction proceeds.”

The FERC request follows a motion filed by SELC for the same client group on July 5 with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals asking that construction activity on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) be halted until the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) complies with the Court’s May 15 order vacating the FWS’s Incidental Take Statement for the ACP. Details of that motion were discussed in the July 12 issue of ABRA Update.

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