Appeals Court Throws Out Government Approvals For Pipeline

Keystone XL pipeline sections sit on a train near Glendive, Mont.

A federal appeals court threw out government approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline through Jefferson National Forest for a second time on Tuesday.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found unanimously that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management failed to properly predict and prevent erosion and sedimentation problems, The Roanoke Times reported.

The agencies “erroneously failed to account for real-world data suggesting increased sedimentation along the pipeline route,” Judge Stephanie Thacker said in the written decision.

The ruling sends the permit back to the agencies for reconsideration. When the court canceled permits in 2018, it took the agencies two years to approve another permit.

The court also ruled that the Forest Service prematurely authorized crossings of some streams in the national forest.

Much of the 303-mile (487-kilometer) natural gas pipeline has been completed, but it hasn’t been allowed to pass through a 3.5 mile (5.6 kilometer) section of the forest.

Pipeline spokeswoman Natalie Cox told the newspaper in an email that it is reviewing the decision and “evaluating the project’s next steps and timing considerations.”