Win in MVP Forest Service/BLM Case

From Sierra Club:

This morning, the Fourth Circuit ruled in our favor in our case challenging the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s decisions to allow the Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest. The court vacated these decisions, and thus, MVP’s authority to act in the Jefferson National Forest.

We won on our primary claims:

* The Forest Service was arbitrary in concluding that sedimentation and erosion impacts of the pipeline could be mitigated to insignificance.
* The Forest Service violated the 2012 Forest Planning Rule, by arbitrarily concluding that amendments to the forest plan were not “directly related” to particular provisions of that rule. Specifically, the Forest Service ignored the “purpose” of the amendments, which was squarely directly related to the rule.
* BLM violated the Mineral Leasing Act by failing to demonstrate that alternative routes that would increase co-location with existing rights-of-way were impractical.

We did lose on several ancillary claims: the Court ruled against our claims that the agencies violated NEPA (separate from the MLA) by failing to take a hard look at alternative routes, that the draft EIS was inadequate, and that the Forest Service’s record of decision improperly considered only the action and no-action alternative.

Note that Sierra Club and Wild Virginia’s parallel case against the Forest Service regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline raises nearly identical planning rule and sedimentation claims: that case is currently set for argument on September 28th. This win is tremendous news for that case as well, although we’ll be discussing exactly what it means with our co-counsel and other co-litigants.

Thanks so much for the support in fighting this pipeline and in bringing this case. I wouldn’t have been able to do the work I’ve done on this without the foundation and ongoing support from your organizations fighting this on the ground.


Nathan Matthews
Staff Attorney
Sierra Club


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