« The court grants the motion and suspends construction while this petition for review is pendulous, » the ruling read.
Reaction: A Mountain Valley Pipeline spokesman noted that the decision was related only to construction in Jefferson National Forest, a three-mile stretch of a pipeline expected to run more than 300 miles.
« We will have further comments on the decision in the coming days, » the spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Ben Tettlebaum, director and senior staff advocate at the Wilderness Society, praised the decision in a statement.
“Time and time again, Mountain Valley has tried to force its perilous pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest, devastating communities in its wake and piling violations,” Tettlebaum said. « We are grateful that the Court has granted those communities a measure of reprieve by curbing construction on our public lands, sparing them from further irreversible damage as this important case proceeds. »
Manchin, who provided the crucial vote on President Joe Biden’s climate bill last year and was one of the pipeline’s big supporters, protested the court’s decision.
“Law Passed by Congress and Signed by POTUS is Clear: 4th Circuit No Longer Has Jurisdiction Over MVP’s Building Permits,” Manchin said in a tweet Monday evening. « This new order halting construction is illegal and, regardless of your position on MVP, should alarm every American when a court ignores the law. »
Sen. Shelly Moore Got it (RW.V.) who also supported the pipeline, said Congress « was crystal clear » of its intent when it included language ordering the Interior to issue permits necessary for pipeline construction in the legislation which he approved by raising the debt ceiling.
“This latest effort by the activist Fourth Circuit Court goes against law that was passed by a bipartisan Congress and signed into law by President Biden,” Capito said in a news release.
But the inclusion of specific Mountain Valley pipeline language in the debt ceiling bill it infuriated other lawmakers on both sides of the aislewith both Democrat and Republican sponsored amendments introduced to try to scrap the provision.
A White House spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment. Still, the Biden administration has backed the project, with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urging federal regulators to approve it, arguing the controversial project is necessary for US energy security.
Background: The ruling is the latest twist in the legal saga surrounding the proposed 303-mile pipeline, which would carry natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia.
4th Circuit has dealt several blows to the project previously waive a permit issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality after it discovered that the agency erred in issuing a certificate that the project did not violate state water quality standards. In January 2022, the vacant court permits that the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have given to the project, facing yet another setback sending it back to the agencies for review.
Last year, MVP asked for its lawsuits to be sent to a different three-judge panel than it had ruled in the Virginia case and in previous cases unfavorable to the pipeline — a motion which was denied.
Mountain Valley said it has scheduled construction to begin on the short stretch of pipeline that will cross the national forest. The company expected to begin operating the pipeline by the end of the year.
Josh Siegel contributed to this report.