Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit to the developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. This permit would allow MVP to blast and trench through hundreds of waterbodies in its path, putting water quality at risk along the route.
The Army Corps’ issuance of the Section 404 permit follows passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act earlier this month. The bill raised the nation’s debt limit and included language requiring the Army Corps to issue stream-crossing authorizations for the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The agency had previously committed to withhold the permit because MVP was lacking an Endangered Species Act biological opinion, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued on February 28 and which organizations including Appalachian Voices challenged on April 10. Previously, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a 2018 stream-crossing authorization issued by the Army Corps under Section 404, known as a “nationwide 12 permit,” which had taken a one-size-fits-all approach to waterbody crossings in West Virginia that violated that state’s standards, and stayed a second effort by the Corps to authorize stream crossings in 2020.
Statement by Jessica Sims, Appalachian Voices Virginia Field Coordinator:
“Unprecedented — and unconscionable — congressional interference has placed Virginia and West Virginia communities and waterways at risk by forcing agencies to issue Mountain Valley Pipeline’s permits. Before any construction resumes, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration should require off-site recoating and inspection of the pipe, and elected officials must demand steps to ensure public safety for their constituents along the route and within the blast zone. Pipe that has been degraded by direct sunlight — in some cases for over five years — should not be used. Regulators must engage in strict monitoring to enforce permit conditions.”