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Sierra Club v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20257
Nos. 20-2039, (4th Cir., 12/01/2020)

The Fourth Circuit stayed a pipeline company's use of a nationwide permit, verified by the Army Corps of Engineers, to carry out construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in streams and rivers along the pipeline's route. Environmental groups argued the verification was unlawful because the Corps violated the ESA when it reissued the nationwide permit in 2017, and impermissibly relied on and incorporated modifications adopted by West Virginia to a special condition of the permit that were made in contravention of applicable law. The court found that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the groups' ESA challenge, but that the groups were likely to succeed on the merits of their challenge to the incorporation of the modifications because neither the Corps nor the pipeline company provided any regulatory or statutory authority for incorporating a modification after the issuance of a nationwide permit. It therefore granted the groups' motion to stay.