PSR applauds the decision made by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rescind permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline along its proposed route through Jefferson National Forest. Although the court’s decision was tailored to a small section of the 303-mile pipeline, this decision could have implications beyond the national forest.
The court was not convinced by the Bureau of Land Management/Forestry Service’s assessments of the environmental impacts of the project. In May, a three-judge panel raised questions about the Forest Service’s acceptance of Mountain Valley’s assurances that it could control erosion and sediment caused by running a 42-inch diameter buried pipeline along steep mountainsides. When runoff flows unchecked from construction areas, harmful sediment can contaminate private wells and public water supplies.
The decision is being sent back to the appropriate agencies for further review, but it is not clear how long the reconsideration process will take. For now, pipeline opponents welcome the construction halt in the Jefferson National Forest section of the pipeline.
The Sierra Club released a statement: “Today’s decision is great news for Virginians and everyone who cares about clean water and pristine forests. We have said all along that we can’t trust Mountain Valley Pipeline to protect Virginia’s water, so it’s refreshing to see the court refuse to take them at their word. We aren’t buying the gas industry’s claims about their water protection methods and now, the courts aren’t either. MVP should immediately halt all work in the publicly-owned Jefferson National Forest.”
PSR strongly concurs.