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Mountain Valley Pipeline Faces New Legal Challenge in West Virginia

A lawsuit filed last week is challenging the West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) decision to grant the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) a key water-quality permit. West Virginia’s approval back in December enabled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with dredge-and-fill permits, but the lawsuit argues that WVDEP’s approval is in direct violation of the Clean Water Act.

Lawyers from Appalachian Mountain Advocates are filing the suit on behalf of major players in the fight against the pipeline—the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and Indian Creek Watershed Association. 

“MVP has repeatedly violated environmental safeguards, clean water protections, and plain common sense in their construction of this fracked gas pipeline,” Caroline Hansley, Sierra Club’s Senior Organizer 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.”

WVDEP’s approval disappointed environmental advocates concerned about Appalachia’s natural resources. According to Appalachian Voices, MVP would also exacerbate health and environmental degradation. 

“We cannot let this decision by WVDEP go unchecked while our waters and communities stand to pay the price,” Angie Rosser, Executive Director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said. “With the health of hundreds of our water bodies 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.”

The lawsuit joins a long list of court cases, denied environmental permits, and missed deadlines that have left the MVP over budget and behind schedule. Just last month a lawsuit was filed challenging another key permit in Virginia, and there are two additional pending cases that challenge approvals from the Forest Service and the Endangered Species Act. 

“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.” Peter Anderson, Virginia Policy Director for Appalachian Voices, said. “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.”

Cover Photo: Car point of view on curvy winding highland scenic highway road in colorful autumn fall in West Virginia at Monongahela national forest with sunset or sunrise sunlight. Courtesy of Getty Images

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