Category Archives: Certificates of Approval

Court Denies Request to Reinstate NWP 12

On May 28, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Army Corps of Engineers, Transcanada Keystone Pipeline, and other pipeline companies to reinstate Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12). This means NWP 12 will remain invalid while the Ninth Circuit considers whether the Montana district court correctly ruled that the Corps violated the Endangered Species Act.

The District Court’s April 15 ruling came in a case challenging the NWP12 permit for the Keystone project and was extended to affect permits for other new oil and natural gas pipelines. The ruling impacts the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, neither of which currently have valid NWP12 permits. At this point, the Corps cannot authorize either the MVP or the ACP to use NWP12 unless and until the Ninth Circuit reverses the Montana district court’s determination that the Corps violated the Endangered Species Act.

Appeals Court Urged to Keep Freeze on Army Corps’ NWP 12 for Pipelines

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #277, May 22, 2020:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been urged to uphold a Federal District Court in Montana’s ruling prohibiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12) program from issuing new permits for oil and natural gas pipelines. The District Court’s April 15 ruling came in a case challenging the NWP12 permit for the Keystone project and was extended to affect permits for other new oil and natural gas pipelines. The ruling impacts the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, neither of which currently have valid NWP12 permits.

In a May 20, 2020 brief filed with the Court, the Northern Plains Resource Council, a Montana-based conservation group, argued that Army Corps had failed to evaluate the cumulative impact on endangered species of all projects under the NWP12 and that the agency should have completed a programmatic review under the Endangered Species Act before reauthorizing the program for a five-year term beginning in 2017. The case is before the Ninth Circuit on appeal by the Army Corps and industry groups that are asking the Appeals Court to overturn the District Court’s freeze of the NWP12 program until the case is decided the issues. For a copy of the brief, click here.

Rockbridge Planning Commission Approves Goshen ACP Yard

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #276, May 14, 2020

The Rockbridge County, VA Planning Commission approved on May 13 [2020] a site plan for a proposed construction storage yard for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in Goshen, VA. The 4-0 vote (with one abstention) came despite 95 of the 99 written comments received by the Commission expressing opposition to the yard plan. The County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider the issue on May 26.

Yet Another Blow to ACP and MVP

Writing in Blue Virginia on May 12, 2020, Jonathan Sokolow describes how the nationwide injunction by a judge in Montana brings construction on the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines to a halt, since they no longer have a valid permit to cross the thousands of waterways along their routes.

“On April 15, the judge in Northern Plains Resource Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, issued a nationwide order vacating a key federal permit, known as Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12 for short). Chief District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled that the Corps failed to comply with key provisions of the Endangered Species Act when it issued NWP 12 in 2017.”

Although the case was about the Keystone XL pipeline, the vacated permit affects all pipeline construction. Both the MVP and the ACP decided to avoid applying for individual water crossing permits by asking for and receiving permission to use the now vacated blanket NWP 12.

Keystone XL and other and other industry powerhouses (including Dominion) asked Judge Morris “to reverse himself, or at least modify his April ruling to apply only to the Keystone XL pipeline. They also asked the judge to stay his own order pending appeal.” On May 11, Judge Morris said no to both requests.

When companies complained that the ruling left them unable to cross water bodies, the judge pointed out that they could still pursue individual permits: “Developers remain able to pursue individual permits for their new oil and gas pipeline construction….Intervenors possess no inherent right to maximize revenues by using a cheaper, quicker permitting process, particularly when their preferred process does not comply with the [Endangered Species Act].”

Sokolow says, “Keystone XL will no doubt appeal this ruling. And ACP and MVP will continue to spin repeated court losses as ‘temporary’ setbacks. But for now, the nationwide injunction represents another huge impediment to construction of two massive pipelines that together, would more than double Virginia’s production of green house gases from stationary sources.”

And Sokolow concludes with a statement we all heartily endorse: “It is long past time for the companies behind these projects to fold their tents and go home.”

Rockbridge Planning Commission to Consider Approval of ACP Yard

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance ABRA Update 275, May 7, 2020:

A proposed storage yard for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be the subject of a May 13 meeting of the Rockbridge County (VA) Planning Commission to discuss its possible approval. (See Concerns Expressed About Proposed ACP Yard in Goshen, VA.) The proposed contractor yard, to be located in Goshen, VA, would be an active hub for pipe welding, fuel storage, pipeline worker rendezvous, material storage, and construction vehicle travel to pipeline installation locations in neighboring Bath, Highland, and Augusta counties.

Action is needed! ABRA members and activists are urged to file comments in opposition to the proposal with the Planning Commission in advance of the May 13 meeting.

For more information, click here for an alert and share it with others.

Concerns Expressed About Proposed ACP Yard in Goshen, VA

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update 274, April 30, 2020:

A proposed construction storage yard has drawn expressions of deep concern from a coalition of Rockbridge County citizens plus ABRA, Augusta County Alliance and the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council, both of whom are ABRA members. The proposed yard site is proximate to wetlands and streams on the edge of Goshen that empty into the Calfpasture River and then the scenic Maury River.

In an April 28 letter to the Rockbridge County Planning Commission and County Administrator (with copies to the County Supervisors), Rockbridge resident Molly Petty wrote on behalf of the coalition,

“We are especially concerned that the absence of an open public hearing and further limits on public comment under pandemic guidelines will prevent adequate opportunity for scrutiny of the concerns many of us have about the construction yard. The public will have access to the entire Planning Commission packet only one week prior, and in an unknown form (online?) and place (since the public library is closed, the packet will be unavailable for the usual viewing of Planning documents). These conditions are not conducive to public transparency. In addition, presumably ACP will make a presentation at the May 13 meeting and answer commissioners’ questions. The public should be able to hear this entire presentation and discussion and participate fully; unfortunately, citizen participation will be nigh impossible for those who have bandwidth or cell phone issues from their rural homes.

“Given the public health and safety issues at stake, we respectfully request that the Planning Commission postpone consideration of the site plan or any other site work until full public participation and hearing can take place; given the Governor’s Executive Order 55 et al. and positive developments on COVID-19, that could likely be in early summer.”

For a copy of Ms. Petty’s letter, click here.