Regional impact: Critical permit for pipelines vacated

A recent federal court decision could impact two major pipelines proposed to traverse through Augusta County, Virginia. (© Emily Richardson-Lorente)

A decision reached in federal court late last month could have significant implications for the fate of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a request from the Army Corps of Engineers to stay the effect of a district court decision regarding the Corps’ compliance with the Endangered Species Act for its Nationwide Permit 12 permitting program.  The district court found that the Corps never considered the collective effect of the permit in question on endangered species.

“To put it simply, this decision means the Atlantic Coast Pipeline can no longer use Nationwide Permit 12, which the project depends on for over 1,500 crossings of waterbodies,” says Senior Attorney Patrick Hunter. “The ACP is now missing eight necessary permits, creating a significant hurdle to overcome before Dominion can begin building a pipeline that is already years behind schedule.”

SELC filed an amicus brief in the case highlighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and similar Mountain Valley Pipeline as examples of the defects of the Nationwide Permit 12 permitting program.  After being rebuffed by the Ninth Circuit, the Corps has now asked the Supreme Court to stay the effect of the lower court’s ruling while the Ninth Circuit hears the case on the merits.  A decision on the request to stay before the Supreme Court is expected in the next several weeks.

In addition to putting this crucial permit on hold, SELC has submitted evidence to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that further environmental analysis is needed before the project can proceed.

Click here for new information on the lack of need for the pipeline, its potential effects on endangered and threatened species, landscapes, climate, nearby communities and more.

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