Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of a crucial permit that the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) needs to build across waterways. While this pipeline does not directly cross the Shenandoah watershed, it has tremendous implications for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that does cross the Shenandoah headwaters.
Without getting too technical, the Clean Water Act, charges the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) with issuing a permit for the pipeline’s 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. The permit issued to the Mountain Valley Pipeline by the Corps is commonly known as a “nationwide permit 12,” which takes a one-size-fits-all approach.
The MVP is a 300-mile-long, 42-inch pipeline requiring a 125-foot right of way construction zone that would cross streams, rivers and other waters in West Virginia and Virginia more than 1,000 times. Because MVP’s own documents shows it cannot meet the conditions required under the nationwide 404 permit in West Virginia, the streamlined permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers is unlawful. The effect of today’s court order is to prohibit MVP from construction activities in 591 streams and wetlands in West Virginia and it may affect construction along the entire route of the pipeline. Under its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorization, pipeline construction is allowed only if MVP has secured all federal authorizations.
Many of the same arguments made in the Mountain Valley Pipeline case are being made in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline case and may bode well for a similar result.
This clearly shows the Nationwide Permit 12 cannot be used as a one size fits all approach for dirty and dangerous pipelines that pose serious threats to our Shenandoah Valley water.
With the wet spring we have had, we’re seeing early construction causing problems for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We’re relieved that the court agrees a more intensive review of this permit is required before risking any further damage.
The river is in great shape for today and tomorrow but Sunday may get a little iffy. Check with Don Roberts and his crew over at Front Royal Outdoors for the latest conditions. You can reach them at 635-5440 or log on to Front Royal Canoe dot com.