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Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction Blocked by Fourth Circuit

Nov. 9, 2020, 11:34 PM

Water crossing permits issued for the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been put on holding pending an appeal by environmental groups that argue the project puts protected species at risk, according to a ruling issued Monday by the Fourth Circuit.

Environmental groups filed their petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit after the Army Corps of Engineers reinstated water permits for the project under Nationwide Permit 12, which was reissued in 2017. The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and three other groups argue the reinstated permit violates the Corps’ mandate to ensure that its actions do not jeopardize any species.

The appeals court previously granted a motion to temporarily stop construction on the project after the environmental groups cited a call in which pipeline officials told investors they would quickly trench through streams “before anything is challenged.”

Monday’s ruling granting a stay pending review comes hours after the court heard oral arguments by the environmental groups appearing remotely. The ruling is another setback for the project, which has faced legal delays for years.

“This decision will help ensure the pipeline doesn’t keep posing catastrophic threats to waterways that people and imperiled species depend on to survive,” said Jared Margolis, attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The pipeline, once completed, is planned to transport natural gas from West Virginia to southern Virginia, according to the project’s website.

Appalachian Mountain Advocates represents the environmental groups.

The Department of Justice represents the federal government. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP represents Mountain Valley Pipeline LLP as intervenor defendant.

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 Sierra Club v. Army Corps of Eng’rs, 4th Cir. App., No. 20-02042, 11/9/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maya Earls in Washington at mearls@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com

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