WASHINGTON, DC — Late yesterday, a coalition of environmental groups took legal action in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to halt the start of construction of the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline, challenging the “certificate of public convenience and necessity” issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Attorneys for Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed the litigation on behalf of the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and Wild Virginia.
The groups also filed a motion to stay the start of construction given the tremendous harmful impacts posed by the 300-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline.
FERC approved the pipeline in October in a 2-1 decision, despite the significant risks the Mountain Valley Pipeline poses to streams, rivers and drinking water sources and to treasured Appalachian landscapes, and despite evidence that existing pipeline capacity is sufficient. If built, the pipeline would cut through a 3.5-mile stretch of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and West Virginia, cross the Appalachian Trail at a previously undisturbed site, and cross waterways more than 1,000 times in the two states, posing a high risk of widespread water contamination. It would also significantly increase emissions that contribute to climate change, displacing public and private investments in energy efficiency, solar and other non-carbon based alternatives that cause far less environmental harm.
In response, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Director Kate Addleson released the following statement:
“We are bringing this suit to stop the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline because it threatens land, streams and rivers that are an important part of Virginia’s culture and economy. This pipeline would cause irreversible harm to our air, water, and communities, so we are evaluating every avenue we have to ensure it never gets built.”
David Sligh, Conservation Director for Wild Virginia, stated:
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission failed in its legal duty to assess the true costs of this project to the communities that would be harmed and the natural treasures that would be degraded or destroyed. A true accounting could not have led to the conclusion that this ill-conceived proposal is in the public interest. Citizens are forced to seek protection from the courts that we should have been afforded by FERC.”
West Virginia Rivers Coalition Executive Director Angie Rosser:
“FERC failed to follow the law; in so doing, it is recklessly sacrificing our streams, public lands and private property rights. Their refusal to fully evaluate the purpose and need of this project robs the public of benefiting from less harmful alternatives. FERC’s shoddy approval of MVP makes a mockery of their responsibility to the public interest.”
Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager for Appalachian Voices, stated:
“Dissenting FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur concluded that this project is not in the public interest — and with good reason. Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline would devastate communities in West Virginia and Virginia, threatening their water and permanently damaging pristine mountain landscapes to transport natural gas that is not needed. We must hold FERC accountable for failing to evaluate the need for this project in a rational manner, and for dismissing the legitimate environmental concerns outlined by its staff and the public.”
Anne Havemann, General Counsel for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated:
“From coastal flooding to monster hurricanes to ravaging wildfires, climate change is impacting the critical systems that support life on our planet–right now. The Mountain Valley Pipeline for fracked-gas would dramatically increase greenhouse gas emissions, while also trampling property rights, harming water quality, and permanently scarring pristine mountains. We are going to court to ask it to do what FERC failed to do — protect the public interest and halt construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”
About Appalachian Mountain Advocates
Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad) is a non-profit law and policy center dedicated to fighting for clean water and a clean energy future. Appalmad has a long history of winning precedent-setting court cases. The organization represents scores of landowners and grassroots organizations challenging four unnecessary interstate pipelines in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Appalmad has worked for more than 15 years to ensure the fossil fuel industry cannot continue to dump its costs of doing business onto the public. For more information, visit www.appalmad.org.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.
About Wild Virginia
Wild Virginia is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and supporting the complexity, diversity and stability of natural ecosystems by enhancing connectivity, water quality and climate in the forests, mountains, and waters of Virginia through education and advocacy.
About Appalachian Voices
Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for healthy communities and just economies in Appalachia in balance with the region’s incomparable natural heritage, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. www.AppalachianVoices.org
About West Virginia Rivers Coalition
West Virginia Rivers Coalition is a statewide non-profit organization promoting the conservation and restoration of West Virginia’s exceptional rivers and streams. Since 1989, it has served as the statewide voice for clean, healthy waters for all to use and enjoy. For more information, visit www.wvrivers.org.
About Chesapeake Climate Action Network
The missions of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network is to build a diverse movement powerful enough to put our region on the path to climate stability. We envision an equitable energy future where truly clean sources of power sustain every aspect of our lives, and dirty fossil fuels are phased out; where communities now sacrificed to the fossil fuel industry have won the freedom to decide where their energy comes from and how it’s used.