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President Biden offers up more COVID-19 vaccines to the world; Dems and GOP close in on an infrastructure deal; and Speaker Pelosi tries to quell a spat over the Middle East among Democrats.

MVP Critics Request Stay, Citing Endangered Species Act

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The Mountain Valley Pipeline is being built on slopes so steep that trucks carrying pipe sections sometimes have to be pulled up by bulldozers. (Alan Moore/Virginians Against Pipelines/Facebook)
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is being built on slopes so steep that trucks carrying pipe sections sometimes have to be pulled up by bulldozers. (Alan Moore/Virginians Against Pipelines/Facebook)
 By Dan HeymanContact
September 3, 2019

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Conservation groups want a federal court to halt the troubled Mountain Valley Pipeline, saying it harms rare species of bats and fish.

Financial documents from the project's lead company came to light last winter, showing federal regulators had opened an unusual criminal investigation of Clean Water Act violations. Now, the Sierra Club and others are requesting a full stay under the Endangered Species Act - pending action on a suit over the logging and mud runoff caused when the MVP crosses steep slopes and fragile waterways.

Jared Margolis is an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

"While they've taken some actions to prevent harm, it so far hasn't really proven to be adequate. And we're seeing that on the ground,” Morgolis said.

The EQT Corporation has argued the 2 billion-cubic-feet-per-day pipeline capacity is needed to open a bottleneck in getting Marcellus and Utica natural gas to eastern markets. The 300-mile pipeline route crosses some of the area's most rugged and untouched lands on its way from northern West Virginia to near the Virginia-North Carolina border.

State regulators have repeatedly cited the pipeline's construction for too much sediment and muddy runoff. The company had agreed to a temporary pause related to endangered species, but still expects the MVP to go into service later this year. Margolis said more forceful action is needed because, among other issues, the sediment puts a vulnerable species of fish at risk.

"The fact that sediment harms Roanoke logperch in particular is very clear,” he said. “And so, it's also very clear that there's enough sediment coming off of this project already to cause harm to Roanoke logperch, and this is a critically endangered species."

The Trump administration has moved to weaken the Endangered Species Act, but Margolis said that battle is unlikely to be settled in time to have any effect here. Critics of this and other pipelines have questioned whether there's sufficient demand to support them, and say it's unwise to build fossil-fuel infrastructure in the face of a climate change crisis.

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