On Nov. 19, Del. Sam Rasoul (11th District) issued the following statement regarding a Nov. 18 decision on the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (the pipeline’s expected route travels through the Union Hall and Penhook areas below Smith Mountain Lake):

Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to issue a stay pending appeal while it considered a challenge brought by environmental groups to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The case involves a permit, known as a Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement, issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The court has yet to consider the full merits of the case, and when it does so, I am confident the court will do what it has done in many other cases and throw out these permits, which were hastily issued in the waning days of the current federal administration.

While the court’s decision is a disappointing temporary setback, the fact remains that the same court already has stayed another permit, known as Nationwide Permit 12, which MVP needs to cross hundreds of rivers, streams and wetlands along the 303-mile route in West Virginia and Virginia. And MVP still lacks a permit to cross the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia as well as a 25-mile buffer zone over which construction is still barred by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Without those permits, the project will never be completed.

Mountain Valley Pipeline is the most expensive pipeline on a per-mile basis ever conceived. Billions over budget and years behind schedule, MVP should never have been proposed and should never have been approved by federal regulators and responsible agencies in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And building this pipeline using thousands of out-of-state workers in Southwest Virginia during an escalating public health emergency is creating an unnecessary and dangerous risk to the communities along the proposed route and beyond.

What is required now is decisive action by Virginia and the incoming Biden Administration to end this corporate boondoggle once and for all. I call for the following actions to be taken immediately:

The incoming Biden Administration should initiate an expedited review of all permits issued to MVP and pull the existing permits pending such review as soon as it takes office.

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality and the State Water Control Board should initiate the process of revoking certifications previously issued to MVP under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

I challenge my fellow elected officials at the state and local levels to join the fight to protect impacted communities along the route of the MVP and to speak out on this important fight for environmental justice.

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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