Clean Water Advocates Challenge Army Corps of Engineers on Fracked Gas Pipeline Water Quality Review

RICHMOND, VA — Today, a coalition of clean water advocates filed a suit contending the United States Army Corps of Engineers improperly issued a crucial permit for the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline. Under section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Army Corps is charged with issuing a permit for the pipelines’ stream crossings that allows the project’s builders to trench through the bottom of those streams, including the Greenbrier, Elk, and Gauley Rivers, and fill the crossings with dirt during construction of the pipeline. Before the Army Corps can issue this permit, the state in which construction will occur must certify the pipeline’s construction will not degrade the state’s water quality.

The permit issued to the Mountain Valley Pipeline by the Army Corps is commonly known as a “nationwide” permit, which takes a one-size-fits-all approach that can only be used when a state has done the necessary water quality analysis. Since West Virginia waived its right to do that analysis, the Army Corps can not legally issue the section 404 permit for construction of the pipeline in West Virginia.

If successful, this suit will require the Army Corps or the state of West Virginia to do another water quality impact review before the pipeline can be built through that state.

The suit was filed by Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of a coalition made up of the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, Indian Creek Watershed Association, West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

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

“The Army Corps of Engineers has a responsibility to protect the people and places we love and their one-size-fits-all approach to this project falls far short of fulfilling that responsibility. The fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline is a dirty, dangerous project that threatens our water, climate and communities and it shouldn’t be built until the Army Corps has done a serious analysis of how badly it would affect the water of Virginia and West Virginia at all river and stream crossings.”

Angie Rosser, Executive Director for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said:

“The combination of WVDEP’s waived water quality analysis and the Army Corps’ cookie-cutter approach just doesn’t cut it for a project of this scale. This illegal move greatens the risk to West Virginia’s rivers and streams and must be addressed before any construction begins.”

Anne Havemann, General Counsel for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said:

“The federal and state governments have fallen short when it comes to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Army Corps’ blanket permit does not come close to covering the scale and scope of this massive pipeline project. We are asking the court to make the Army Corps take seriously its responsibility to protect our waters.”

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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.

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