The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) has hit another obstacle as a judge has ordered a temporary stay on construction of the project in southern West Virginia. Summers County Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons issued the stay on Tuesday, halting work on the pipeline’s crossing of the Greenbrier River in Pence Springs after a motion filed last week by the Greenbrier River Watershed Association, Indian Creek Watershed Association, and three landowners.
The Roanoke Times reports that attorney for the plaintiffs Kevin Thompson argued that a permit issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is not in compliance with the Natural Streams Preservation Act (NSPA). In their motion, the group explained a stay was necessary to prevent “this appeal from becoming moot and irreparable damage or harm to petitioners. Otherwise, MVP’s project will be complete” in the area by the time the court hears the appeal, according to a report from NGI.
On one landowners’ property, workers have already begun with cutting down trees to make way for the MVP.
Judge Irons has set the next hearing for October 23.
After multiple delays involving work stoppages and regulatory issues, the MVP service date has now been pushed back from late 2018 to late 2019.
“The NSPA was enacted to protect the free-flowing characteristics of specific streams in West Virginia, and the WVDEP and the Environmental Quality Board concluded that MVP’s activities will not materially alter or affect the free-flowing characteristics of the Greenbrier River,” said MVP spokesperson Natalie Cox. “The challenge to MVP’s permit primarily focused on water quality protection, which is outside the scope of the NSPA.”
In August, construction along the project’s entire 303-mile route was stopped by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated two key permits from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) related to a crossing of the Jefferson National Forest. The order was lifted, however, with construction along most of the route again restarted. Though, there is a 25-mile work stoppage still in effect until the USFS and BLM issue revised permits.