Curtis Tate Published

U.S. Appeals Court Blocks Mountain Valley Pipeline Again

An aerial photo of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The unfinished project is seen in a trench in the middle of a green forest.
An aerial photo of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Mountain Valley Watchers

Construction on a controversial natural gas pipeline is on hold again, and it’s the second legal setback for the project in as many days.

The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday halted construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia.

The appeals court for the third time rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s analysis of the pipeline’s impact on endangered species, including the candy darter, a nearly extinct fish.

The ruling comes a day after the same court blocked the U.S. Forest Service’s approval for construction on a three-mile portion of the 300-mile pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest.

Congress expedited approval of all the pipeline’s outstanding permits in the debt ceiling deal lawmakers approved last month, but environmental groups and landowners again asked the Fourth Circuit to intervene.

Opponents have expressed concerns about the safety of the pipeline and its impact on streams.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, one of the project’s biggest backers, called the new ruling “unlawful.”

“The law passed by Congress and signed by the president is clear,” Manchin said in a statement. “The 4th Circuit no longer has jurisdiction over Mountain Valley Pipeline’s construction permits.”