Federal Court Upholds Pipeline Denial

A federal Appeals Court has upheld North Carolina’s authority to deny a permit to a major proposed natural gas pipeline, but returned the decision to the state for further findings in support of that decision. The case deals with the Southgate section of the Mountain Valley Pipeline originating in West Virginia.

The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denied the permit last year. Now this court found DEQ was in the right, and had adequately explained part of its decision, but must provide further explanation for outright permit denial instead of issuing a conditional approval. 

“The Fourth Circuit ruling vindicates DEQ’s concerns about the MVP Southgate pipeline extension and the uncertainty of the mainline project,” said DEQ spokeswoman Anna Gurney. “The ruling upholds the state’s authority to determine that building the Southgate extension at this time poses unnecessary risk to North Carolina’s streams, lakes, and wetlands.”

“We are pleased that the court affirmed the department’s ability to protect North Carolina’s rivers and streams from needless harm,” said Jean Zhuang, attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented the Haw River Assembly in joining the case to defend DEQ’s decision. “The only task remaining is for the state to explain its decision more fully and again deny certification for this unnecessary, destructive pipeline.”

“This pipeline poses serious risks to water quality throughout the Haw River watershed, with no benefits to the public,” said Emily Sutton, the Haw Riverkeeper. “In denying the certification, the department prioritized the health of our communities and our rivers and streams over an unnecessary fossil fuel project. We are glad that the court found the agency has the authority to do so, and we look forward to the department continuing to protect our waters by again denying the pipeline’s certification.”

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