Federal appeals court invalidates Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit

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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7 & AP) A federal appeals court in Richmond has issued a decision that invalidates a key permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

A three-judge panel issued the order Tuesday, vacating a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allowed construction to move forward.

The court concluded that "the limits set by the agency are so indeterminate that they undermine the Incidental Take Statement’s enforcement and monitoring function under the Endangered Species Act."

The case was brought by Defenders of Wildlife, Virginia Wilderness Committee and the Sierra Club, and argued by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

"Like other agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service rushed this pipeline approval through under intense political pressure to meet developers’ timelines," said SELC Managing Attorney DJ Gerken in a news release. "We are grateful this decision upholds the protection of endangered species as the law requires."

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline released the following statement Tuesday evening:

"We remain confident in the project approvals and the ACP will continue to move forward with construction as scheduled. This decision only impacts activities directly covered by the Incidental Take Statement in certain defined areas along the route. We will fully comply as required while we continue to construct the project. Although we disagree with the outcome of the court’s decision, and are evaluating our options, we are committed to working with the agency to address the concerns raised by the court's order."