Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC can continue clearing, grading, and other earth-disturbing construction, the Fourth Circuit ruled Wednesday in a loss for environmental groups who argued the work was harming streams that contain protected fish.
Appalachian Voices, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and other groups claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service improperly issued findings that said construction on the pipeline isn’t likely to jeopardize species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Recent rainfall showed construction is causing sedimentation in nearby streams, and both the endangered Roanoke logperch and candy darter are vulnerable to increased sediments in the water, the groups said in their motion for a temporary stay filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The Fish and Wildlife Service responded Tuesday that temporary stay wasn’t justified absent a “sudden emergency or extraordinary circumstances.” Mountain Valley Pipeline said in its own filing that it hasn’t continued construction in any areas that might affect the protected fish.
The court denied both the motion for a temporary stay and a previous motion to stay the agency’s findings filed by the groups. The ruling comes after the court put a hold on permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers Nov. 9, which prevented Mountain Valley Pipeline from completing stream-crossings.
The Sierra Club and Appalachian Mountain Advocates represent the environmental groups.
The Department of Justice represents the federal government. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, Beveridge & Diamond PC, and Holland & Hart LLP represent Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The Sierra Club has received funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.
The case is Appalachian Voices v. Dep’t of the Interior, 4th Cir., No. 20-02159, 11/18/20.