Sierra Club v. State Water Control Board, No. 21-2425 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (‘‘MVP’’) submitted an application requesting both a Virginia Water Protection individual permit (“VWP Permit”) from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) and the State Water Control Board (the “Board”) (collectively, “the Agencies”) and a certification from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“Army Corps”) pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) to build a pipeline. After an extensive review of MVP’s application, the Board adopted DEQ’s recommendation to approve MVP’s application. Petitioners filed this action against the Agencies and several individuals associated with the Agencies (collectively, “Respondents”), asking the court to review the Agencies’ decision.
The Fourth Circuit denied the petition for review, concluding that Agencies’ decision to grant MVP’s application was neither arbitrary nor capricious. The court explained that Petitioners’ argument that the Agencies failed to consider whether the Pipeline will comply with Virginia’s narrative water quality standard is belied by the record. DEQ addressed this issue in its responses to the public comments, in which it listed a host of conditions that it placed on the VWP Permit to “ensure that Virginia’s water quality is protected both during and after construction.” The court further explained that the DEQ described the indicators it uses to measure water quality, which Petitioners have not challenged. Accordingly, the court found it is clear from the record that DEQ considered a variety of factors in determining that the construction and operation of the Pipeline would comply with Virginia’s narrative water quality standard.