Above photo: Fossil Fuels vs. People/Twitter.
Pipeline Would ‘Press On the Gas’ on Wildlife Extinction.
Washington, DC — More than 80 conservation groups sent a letter today urging congressional leadership to reject Sen. Joe Manchin’s proposal to fast-track the approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline as part of any “permitting reform” deal struck between Manchin and Democratic leaders.
“The Mountain Valley Pipeline is an ecological and climate disaster that threatens one of the largest remaining wild landscapes in the eastern United States,” the groups’ letter said. “This destructive pipeline was rejected by the federal courts in part because of the devastation it would cause to endangered species and sensitive ecosystems along its path.”
In February the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated a key Endangered Species Act permit for the pipeline because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to adequately analyze the harm it would do to two endangered fish — the candy darter, a species on the brink of extinction, and the Roanoke logperch.
The court also found the pipeline permit failed to consider climate change impacts on the fish, despite the agency itself acknowledging that climate change is expected to be an increasing threat. In a sharp rebuke, the court condemned the Service, noting that “if a species is already speeding toward the extinction cliff, an agency may not press on the gas.”
“These beautiful little fish are fighting so hard to survive because the rivers and streams they call home have been polluted and degraded for decades,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The court rightfully rejected this disastrous pipeline, so it’s profoundly alarming that Democratic leadership is now scheming with Sen. Manchin to ram through its approval behind closed doors.”
Last month, Manchin released a one-page memo outlining his demands for the legislative deal. They include undercutting basic environmental protections and fast-tracking fossil fuel projects, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Reports indicate that congressional leadership plans to introduce the legislation in September with the hope of a final vote before the end of the month.
“If Democratic leaders continue to bow to Sen. Manchin by approving this pipeline, irreplaceable species and a beautiful piece of Appalachia’s natural heritage could vanish forever,” said Kurose.
Today’s letter concludes: “A Congressional override and approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline would send a clear message that Congress is willing to ignore climate science when it is inconvenient, and species can go written off to the dustbin of extinction when it is politically expedient to do so. Thus, we urge you to reject these callous attempts by Sen. Manchin and the fossil fuel industry to ram through this irresponsible pipeline and any other fossil fuel project that will cause irreparable harm to our nation’s endangered wildlife and natural heritage.”