Charleston, WV — A new lawsuit filed today challenges West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approval of a key water-quality permit for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The lawsuit argues that WVDEP’s approval violates the Clean Water Act.
The suit was filed by lawyers from Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and Indian Creek Watershed Association.
The West Virginia DEP has allowed construction of MVP to proceed despite widespread opposition, the threatening climate crisis, and environmental damage that continues to harm Appalachia’s streams. If completed, MVP would also exacerbate health and environmental degradation in communities, as well as continuing to spur more dependence on dirty fracked gas.
This legal challenge adds to the mounting uncertainty over whether this project will ever be completed, following a legal challenge filed late last month to a key Virginia permit, and two additional pending cases at the Fourth Circuit challenging the pipeline’s Forest Service and Endangered Species Act approvals.
In addition, the proposed MVP Southgate extension faces its own permitting challenges. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has already denied a key water quality certification for the project, twice, and in December the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board denied a necessary air permit for the proposed Lambert Compressor Station.
“MVP has repeatedly violated environmental safeguards, clean water protections, and plain common sense in their construction of this fracked gas pipeline,” Sierra Club Senior Organizer Caroline Hansley said. “Thanks to the work of pipeline monitors on the ground, we know that MVP has proven it can’t build this unnecessary pipeline without devastating streams and rivers. This is just another fight in our books that we are ready to take on for the sake of environmental justice and a livable future for all.”
Peter Anderson, Virginia Policy Director for Appalachian Voices, said “We have long known that the Mountain Valley Pipeline cannot be built across the steep landscapes in West Virginia and Virginia in compliance with state and federal water protection laws. If state regulators will not prioritize the public interest, perhaps the courts will. The people relying on the precious natural resources of this region deserve better.”
Angie Rosser, Executive Director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said, “We cannot let this decision by WVDEP go unchecked while our waters and communities stand to pay the price. With the health of hundreds of our waterbodies at stake, we need the court to take a close look at why it’s evident that MVP has not and will not be able to meet Clean Water Act requirements.”
Cindy Rank, Chair of the Extractive Industries Committee of West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, bemoaned the WVDEP decision that allows MVP to continue polluting our valuable headwater streams: “The future health of the state depends upon the health of these streams and wetlands which are being violated with each additional mile of construction and every stream crossing that is permitted.”
Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.