(AP) A federal appeals court has put a hold on two permits needed for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 11 issued a stay of permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service while it reviews a lawsuit filed by environmental groups in August.
The Sierra Club said in a statement that the suspension effectively means that construction must stop on the 300-mile natural gas project.
Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for the pipeline, did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Cox told The Roanoke Times that pipeline officials are “disappointed and disagree” with the 4th Circuit’s ruling.
The lawsuit alleges that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval of the project failed to adequately protect endangered species along the pipeline’s path.
After the lawsuit was filed, the pipeline developers suspended some construction activities. Pipeline officials told federal regulators in a letter in August that they had suspended construction in areas where the work could impact protected bat and fish species.
Also on Friday, the company building the pipeline agreed to pay over $2 million and submit to enhanced monitoring to settle a lawsuit brought by Virginia officials.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office announced that a consent decree had been reached with Mountain Valley LLC that will resolve the lawsuit filed in December.
Herring’s office said in a news release that Mountain Valley will pay a $2.15 million civil penalty and will submit to court-supervised compliance with environmental protections. It will also pay for additional third-party monitoring.
State officials alleged that developers violated Virginia’s environmental laws and regulations by not controlling sediment and stormwater runoff.
The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it will be submitted to the court.
The pipeline would run between northwestern West Virginia and southern Virginia.n