Corps reinstates permits for natural gas pipeline project
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reissued permits for construction of a natural gas pipeline project in Virginia and West Virginia nearly two years after a federal appeals court invalidated them.
The new permits issued on Friday will allow construction to resume on the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s path across nearly 1,000 streams and wetlands, the Roanoke Times reported.
In 2018, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a corps-issued permit violated a West Virginia regulatory requirement that pipeline stream crossings must be completed within 72 hours to limit environmental damage. The company building the Mountain Valley Pipeline had acknowledged that it would take four to six weeks to span four major rivers in West Virginia.
Two other permits for separate crossings in West Virginia and Virginia were suspended after the court’s ruling.
In a letter Friday to the U.S. Justice Department, an attorney representing the Sierra Club and other environmental groups asked for an administrative stay of the stream-crossing permits and vowed to file a legal challenge by Monday. The groups have said the pipeline has polluted streams and rivers and imperiled wildlife and plants that are listed as endangered species.
The pipeline, constructed and owned by Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, is expected to follow a 300-mile path from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.
Mountain Valley still needs a permit from another federal agency to finish the $5.7 billion project by early next year. The other, the Forest Service, moved forward Friday with the release of an environmental impact statement that addresses flaws in erosion and sediment control measures cited by the 4th Circuit’s 2018 decision.