Fourth Circuit Vacates Mountain Valley Pipeline Approval

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated, for the second time, the record of decision issued by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management allowing the Mountain Valley pipeline to cross three and a half miles of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and West Virginia. In 2018, the court vacated the record of decision after finding that the agencies’ action failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, National Forest Management Act, and Mineral Leasing Act. After remand, the agencies issued a revised Record of Decision; however, the court found the action remained deficient. Specifically, 1) the agencies failed to properly evaluate sedimentation and erosion concerns based on evidence of the pipeline’s actual impacts in areas outside of the National Forest; 2) the agencies failed to properly evaluate the environmental impacts of the conventional boring methods planned to be used for four stream crossings; and 3) the Forest Service’s amendments to the Jefferson Forest Plan did not adequately consider the project’s actual sediment and erosion impacts.

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