Brittany Patterson Published

Environmental Groups Ask Federal Court To Once Again Stop Construction Of The Mountain Valley Pipeline

Sections of pipe sit in a storage yard outside Buckhannon, W.Va.

Environmental organizations, led by local advocacy group Appalachian Voices, have once again asked a federal court to halt construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

In a motion filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the groups asked the court to stop construction of the 303-mile natural gas pipeline, which is more than 90 percent completed, while the federal bench sorts through the legality around two newly reissued federal permits.

The permits, reissued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in early September, include the Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The permits address concerns around how the project could impact endangered species.

In October 2019, the Fourth Circuit tossed the project’s Biological Opinion and halted the project following a similar lawsuit by environmental groups.

In the new motion, Appalachian Voices argues the agency did not consider all of the appropriate information before reissuing the approvals.

The project, from developer EQT, goes through northwestern West Virginia and southern Virginia. In the Mountain State it crosses Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Braxton, Webster, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers, and Monroe Counties. The project has faced several court challenges in the past two years over state and federal permits on both sides of the border. The multi-billion dollar project would carry 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations to markets on the East Coast.

In a separate lawsuit, environmental groups are also challenging a permit that allows the pipeline to cross streams and wetlands. The Fourth Circuit has temporarily blocked construction across waterways. Oral arguments are scheduled for Nov. 9.