April 11, 2023

Groups File Legal Challenge to the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Biological Opinion

Washington, DC — Yesterday, environmental organizations filed a petition for review in federal court challenging a recently issued new biological opinion (BiOp) and incidental take statement under the Endangered Species Act for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. A federal appeals court has already twice rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s prior authorizations for the pipeline project.

Previously, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the agency failed to adequately analyze the project’s environmental context when assessing the detrimental impacts to the Roanoke logperch and the candy darter, a species on the brink of extinction. In the rushed process to deliver the new biological opinion on the pipeline developer’s timeline, the Fish and Wildlife Service neglected critical public input regarding key deficiencies in the agency’s analysis. 

This petition comes a week after the court invalidated a key water permit that would be needed to proceed with construction activities in West Virginia streams and wetlands. Without the West Virginia Clean Water Act section 401 certification, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can’t allow construction in streams anywhere along the entire 304-mile project.

The petition was filed by lawyers from the Sierra Club and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of Wild Virginia, Appalachian Voices, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Preserve Bent Mountain, Preserve Giles County, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Sierra Club, and Center for Biological Diversity.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service has again betrayed the public interest, by making decisions that don’t acknowledge the harm the MVP has already created,” stated David Sligh, Conservation Director at Wild Virginia. “The Service’s action further threatens the very existence of some of our rarest and most sensitive species. In its rush to meet the corporation’s timeline, the agency chose to ignore important data and its review is fatally flawed.”