Circuit Court Vacates Federal Decisions on MVP Construction

By Mishkin, Kate | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), July 28, 2018 | Go to article overview

Circuit Court Vacates Federal Decisions on MVP Construction


Mishkin, Kate, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


The federal government didn't do enough to protect national forests when it signed off on construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a panel of federal judges decided Friday afternoon.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Bureau of Land Management's decision to grant a right of way, and the U.S. Forest Service's decision to allow a right of way and construction through the Jefferson National Forest after both were challenged by a coalition of citizen and environmental groups.

"American citizens understandably place their trust in the Forest Service to protect and preserve this country's forests, and they deserve more than silent acquiescence to a pipeline company's justification for upending large swaths of national forestlands, Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote in the 44-page decision that Judges Roger Gregory and William Traxler joined.

Those decisions to green-light construction violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Mineral Leasing Act and the National Forest Management Act, the group, which includes the Sierra Club, Wild Virginia and Appalachian Voices, argued.

Specifically, the decisions threatened impacts to sedimentation and the interior forest, Nathan Matthews, a lawyer for the Sierra Club, argued in court in May.

When it's built, the underground pipeline will run 300 miles from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The project will require a 75-to-125-foot right of way for construction, and a permanent 50-foot right of way. EQT Corporation, the project's parent company, had promised a late 2018 in-service date, but announced this week that the project would actually be done in the first quarter of 2019 instead. …

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