Appalmad: Clean Water Advocates Ask Judges to Halt Fracked Gas Pipeline

The following statement was released by Appalachian Mountain Advocates on February 23. You can find the original posting here.

UPDATE: 4th Circuit Sets Response Deadline of 2/28/18 at Noon.

RICHMOND, VA — Today, a coalition asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to order Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to stay out of West Virginia streams until a decision is made on their appeal from last week. The groups made the request today because MVP is ineligible to use the streamlined stream crossing permit offered to it by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

According to a West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) condition, pipelines greater than 36 inches in diameter or that cross certain types of rivers must have an individual certification. Since DEP previously waived its right to issue an individual certification for the MVP, that project can not have such a certification and, therefore, the Army Corps of Engineers cannot allow MVP to use the streamlined Nationwide Permit 12 to trench through West Virginia streams. Without that streamlined permit, MVP must seek an individualized permit to build 591 stream crossings in West Virginia.

The coalition of clean water advocates in the case includes Sierra Club, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The groups are represented by lawyers at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a non-profit environmental law firm.

In response, Sierra Club Organizing Manager Bill Price released the following statement:

“It’s ironic that DEP’s failure to analyze the MVP’s threats to our water may be the very thing that stops this fracked gas pipeline from being built. If Governor Justice and his DEP won’t protect West Virginia’s water, maybe their incompetence will.”

Indian Creek Watershed Association President Howdy Henritz said:

“West Virginia’s DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in a competition to abdicate responsibility to guarantee our clean water. They need to follow the law, treat each individual stream crossing as unique, and either certify that construction will not degrade our streams and wetlands or deny the permit. Otherwise, the biggest losers are the people and irreplaceable water resources of West Virginia.”

West Virginia Rivers Coalition Executive Director Angie Rosser said:

“This is a case where shortcuts taken by the permitting agencies are coming back to haunt them. When it comes to protecting our waters, sidestepping the law is unacceptable – the court must intervene.”

Related: Coverage in Charleston Gazette-Mail.