This morning Judge Robert Irons granted plaintiff’s motion for stay in an appeal of West Virginia DEP’s decision to issue a permit under the Natural Streams Preservation Act to allow MVP to cross the Greenbrier River.
The motion for stay was also filed regarding tree felling on the private property at which MVP is slated to cross the Greenbrier River in Summers County and a variance request filed for an additional workspace on an adjacent property.
Representatives for the petitioners — Greenbrier River Watershed Association (GRWA), Indian Creek Watershed Association (ICWA), Ashby Berkley, and Ty and Susan Bouldin — argued that not granting the motion for stay would deny the petitioners their right to due process, as the river crossing would likely be complete before a hearing on the merits of the case is scheduled. Attorneys for MVP argued that they would suffer irreparable harm if the crossing is delayed, as time of year restrictions would prevent construction of the crossing until the summer of 2019.
The attorney present on behalf of West Virginia DEP was notably silent during the majority of the hearing.
Irons challenged the MVP attorney’s assertion that the company needed to begin crossing the Greenbrier River by October 15 in order to finish before the time of year restrictions. He recalled back to hearings surrounding the tree sits on Peters Mountain, responding today that the “hard” deadlines touted by MVP representatives are often shifted when the company faces any adversity. He granted the petitioners’ motion for stay and set a hearing on the merits for October 23 at 10am.
Maury Johnson, Executive Committee Member of the POWHR Coalition
“Today’s stay by Judge Irons to halt the desecration of the Greenbrier River in Summers County, which is suppose to be protected by the Natural Stream Preservation Act, is a welcome voice of reason by those of us who love the beauty of the Greenbrier River.
“In highlighting the constantly moving deadlines that MVP brings to show irreparable harm in court, Judge Irons said what most in positions of power have been afraid to say: federal and state agencies are and will continue to bend over backwards to allow MVP to be built. He stood up for the residents of Summers County, West Virginia, and the Appalachian region, and we look forward to the hearing in October.”
Leslee McCarty, Founding Member of the GRWA Board
“Most of the time, we all feel like David going up against Goliath, but Tuesday our slingshot worked, at least for a little while. October 23 will be another test. We believe that the interest shown by the people attending the hearing helped. After the hearing, a DEP employee said to me, ‘You had a friendly judge.’ I said, ‘No, we had a fair judge!'”
Mark Jarrell, Impacted Landowner in Summers County
“The judge’s decision today is welcome news in our fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline, but it isn’t the end. I’m pinning my hopes on the hearing on October 23.”
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