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Regulators change the rules to ease pipeline approval

By KATE MISHKIN, KEN WARD JR., Gazette-Mail and 

Charleston Gazette-Mail

Pipes are stacked in Monroe County, where they will eventually be welded and become the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
(Gazette-Mail photo by F. Brian Ferguson)

Editor’s Note: This article was produced in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A week ago, the federal government halted work on a massive pipeline project that runs from Northern West Virginia through Southern Virginia.

The government said it had no choice but to order work on the multibillion-dollar Mountain Valley Pipeline stopped after a federal appeals court ruled that two federal agencies had neglected to follow important environmental protections when they approved the project.

The court had found that the U.S. Forest Service had suddenly dropped — without any explanation — its longstanding concerns that soil erosion from the pipeline would harm rivers, streams and aquatic life. It also found that the Bureau of Land Management approved a new construction path through the Jefferson National Forest, ignoring rules that favor sticking to existing utility rights-of-way.

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