May 26, 2023

DC Circuit Court Orders FERC To Evaluate Additional Environmental Review After MVP Erosion

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled in favor of environmental and community groups in a case challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) extension of the certificate for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) that was issued in 2020. FERC faced sharp questioning in court about its handling of the environmental review process – after failing to do a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, despite evidence that the pipeline’s impacts were worse than FERC originally anticipated. Now, FERC is back to the drawing board to evaluate the need for additional environmental analysis. 

During oral argument, judges pressed FERC on the lack of additional review after construction caused sediment to pollute waterways along the project’s route. The agency and MVP deflected blame for the increased sedimentation.

“FERC had abundant evidence from the start that the MVP’s construction would damage our waters and our communities,” stated David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s Conservation Director. “And even when the predictions of harm were proven valid, the agency refused to acknowledge that fact or base estimates of future harm on reality. No agency has yet done a complete and honest analysis of the environmental costs of this destructive scheme, because they know what the conclusion would be – that the MVP must be stopped and the project’s owners and the agencies that illegally allowed them to tear across our region must now work to heal the wounds inflicted on the people and the environment.”  

”We’re glad the court agrees that it’s necessary to consider new information and data to reevaluate MVP’s continued construction,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “What is known now about MVP’s direct environmental impacts cannot be ignored.”

“The court decision just confirms what we’ve known from the beginning: this pipeline cannot be built without harm to the water on which we rely,” said Anne Havemann, General Counsel with Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “With this latest setback–one in a long line of setbacks for MVP – it’s time for the company to abandon the project and invest instead in clean energy.” 

“MVP’s tactic has always been to blame and deflect – and this time is no different. Unfortunately for them, the evidence is clear. The widespread erosion that has led to countless water quality related violations is just one of many signs pointing to the project’s lack of consideration for the health of our environment and the safety of our communities,” Sierra Club Director for Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Patrick Grenter said. “MVP is committed to one thing and one thing only: finishing its dirty project, even if that means hurting everything in the pipeline’s path. Every setback, every permit invalidated, and every investor shying away from the project confirms what we have believed since the project’s inception: It’s time MVP sees the writing on the wall and ends this beleaguered project.”

This decision follows April 2022 oral arguments presented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates. MVP has requested and received a second extension to their certificate – after an overwhelming majority of commenters asked the Commission to deny this second extension request. That decision is also being challenged in court.