Appalachian Mountain Advocates has been working to stop the Mountain Valley pipeline in many different forums since 2014. The 304-mile-long, 42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline would devastate the fragile ecosystems of hundreds of mountains and streams in West Virginia and Virginia. Even more, the pipeline would be responsible for more greenhouse gases than coal-fired power plants.
Appalmad, in cooperation with our allies, has brought cases in state and federal court to challenge the project’s permits. These permits have consistently failed to satisfy the law and protect communities and the environment as required. Eight years later, we are still deep in litigation. So far, in cooperation with our partners, we have brought:
- Legal challenges in 2015 to the company’s attempts in Virginia and West Virginia to enter private properties to conduct land surveys prior to receiving approval for the pipeline, which in West Virginia set precedent protecting landowners from the unwanted and unauthorized intrusions;
- A 2017 legal challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) review under the National Environmental Policy Act and its determination under the Natural Gas Act that the MVP is in the public interest;
- Legal challenges in 2017 to certifications by both Virginia and West Virginia under Clean Water Act §401 that the project will comply with the states’ water quality requirements;
- A 2018 legal campaign — including trials in three federal district courts and a subsequent appeal — to defend scores of landowners from efforts by Mountain Valley Pipeline to gain immediate possession of their properties to trench their land and blast their streams in eminent domain proceedings;
- Successful legal challenges in 2018 and 2020 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act §404 permits, which have so far prevented the vast majority of the pipeline’s harmful stream and wetland crossings;
- A successful 2020 legal challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s revised Endangered Species Act authorization that resulted in the court rejecting the authorizations and demanding that the agency protect critically endangered species, such as the candy darter, from the pipeline’s harmful effects;
- A successful 2021 legal challenge to the U.S. Forest Service’s authorization for the pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest in which the court ordered the agency to ensure that the pipeline’s erosion and sedimentation impacts are consistent with the forest’s protective standards;
- A 2020 legal challenge to FERC’s approval of the MVP Southgate, an extension of the pipeline that would run into North Carolina;
Because of those cases, pipeline construction is currently stalled.
In 2022 we are back in court challenging unlawfully issued permits for pipeline construction. We expect a decision soon in a case challenging FERC decisions in 2020 that let pipeline construction resume. And we have two pending challenges to Clean Water Act approvals issued by the State of West Virginia and the Commonwealth of Virginia that would allow the pipeline to obtain a federal permit to trench or blast through hundreds of streams in West Virginia. We filed our written arguments in the cases in the Summer of 2022, and expect to present oral arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in the Fall of 2022.
Of course, we expect to challenge future actions by federal agencies, including the Corps of Engineers, if they continue to improperly issue permits for the project.