On July 27, 2018, a federal court rescinded Mountain Valley Pipeline’s permit to cross the Jefferson National Forest. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit voted unanimously to vacate the permits MVP had received from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to cross the Jefferson National Forest.
The lawsuit that led to this decision was brought by the Sierra Club, Wild Virginia, Appalachian Voices and other local groups. According to Wild Virginia, the court sided with their arguments that:
- the Forest Service was arbitrary in concluding that sedimentation and erosion impacts to be mitigated to insignificance,
- the Forest Service violated the 2012 Forest Planning Rule by arbitrarily concluding that amendments to the forest plan were not “directly related” to that rule, and
- that BLM violated the Mineral Leasing Act by failing to demonstrate that alternative routes that would increase co-location with existing rights-of-way were impractical.
As a result of the decision, MVP should halt work in the Jefferson National Forest immediately. David Sligh of Wild Virginia the court’s decision “…upholds the principle that agencies responsible for protecting the public lands and resources must conduct thorough and honest reviews and reject proposals that would harm our interests.”
Friends of Nelson president Helen Kimble commented: “Friends of Nelson and other citizen groups submitted numerous comments to the FERC regarding US Forest Service and National Park Service permits for the route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline citing numerous deficiencies. We also expressed concern about the use of a third party contractor by the USFS/NPS who also worked for the ACP as a consultant, to review the pipeline operator’s plans for the route. We commend the 4th Circuit for noting similar deficiencies regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline and taking action to force these agencies to perform a proper review.”