The stay was ordered despite language in the debt ceiling law directing federal agencies to issue permits needed for the controversial pipeline.

By Ben Lefebvre, Politico

A federal appeals court on Monday ordered the backers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline to halt construction in a national forest while it reviews a request by environmental groups to challenge the Biden administration’s approval of the natural gas pipeline.

mountain valley pipeline

A panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which has previously rejected permits for the project, unanimously decided to grant the motion to stop construction. The ruling came after language in the debt ceiling law directed federal agencies to issue permits needed for the controversial pipeline favored by Senate Energy Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Details: The judges agreed with the argument that the Wilderness Society and other environmental groups made last week that construction on the proposed natural gas pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest should stop while the court weighs the request to review the Interior Department’s record of decision allowing pipeline construction in the national forest to begin.

“The court grants the motion and stays construction during the pendency of this petition for review,” the ruling read.

Reaction: A spokesperson for Mountain Valley Pipeline noted the decision was only related to construction in the Jefferson National Forest, a three-mile stretch of a pipeline that is planned to travel more than 300 miles.

“We will have additional comment regarding the decision in the coming days,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Ben Tettlebaum, director and senior staff attorney at the Wilderness Society, praised the decision in a statement.

“Time and time again, Mountain Valley has tried to force its dangerous pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest, devastating communities in its wake and racking up violations,” Tettlebaum said. “We’re grateful that the Court has given those communities a measure of reprieve by hitting the brakes on construction across our public lands, sparing them from further irreversible damage while this important case proceeds.”

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