Citing regulatory ‘capitulation,’ federal court blocks construction of Mountain Valley Pipeline through Virginia

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Roanoke Times:A federal appeals court on Friday struck down two key decisions allowing a natural gas pipeline to slice through the Jefferson National Forest.The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Sierra Club and other conservation groups that challenged approvals by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for a 3.6-mile segment of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.Affected woodlands are in Giles and Montgomery counties and Monroe County, West Virginia. The pipeline’s route through the national forest will also take it under the Appalachian Trail atop Peters Mountain.During oral arguments in May, a three-judge panel raised pointed questions about the Forest Service’s acceptance of Mountain Valley’s assurances that it could control erosion and sediment caused by running a 42-inch diameter buried pipeline along steep mountainsides.“MVP’s proposed project would be the largest pipeline of its kind to cross the Jefferson National Forest,” Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote in the opinion. “American citizens understandably place their trust in the Forest Service to protect and preserve this country’s forests, and they deserve more than silent acquiescence to a pipeline company’s justification for upending large swaths of national forest lands.”Although the court’s decision was tailored to a small section of the 303-mile pipeline, opponents said it could have implications beyond the national forest.Now that Mountain Valley lacks valid permits from the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, some say that calls into question an order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that set the project in motion last October.Earlier in the week, a partner in the corporate venture said completion of the pipeline has been pushed back to early 2019, citing the 4th Circuit’s earlier stay of the permit allowing stream crossings in West Virginia.In its Friday decision, the court said it was sending two decisions back to the appropriate agencies for further review. The first was the Forest Service’s amendment of the Jefferson National Forest Land Resource Management Plan to accommodate the pipeline. The second was a right-of-way through the forest granted by the Bureau of Land Management.It was not clear how long the reconsideration process might take. A key issue in the case was Mountain Valley’s assertion, made during discussions with the Forest Service, that its erosion and sediment control measures would be 79 percent effective. At first, Forest Service officials were highly skeptical of such a rosy scenario.The calculation is a “vast overestimate of containment,” Forest Service officials wrote in comments to Mountain Valley cited in court records. “It is more appropriate to err on the side of worst case scenario, rather than best case. Update the analysis to reflect a … factor equal to or less than 48 percent containment.”Yet later in process, Forest Service officials backed off of the directive and accepted the 79 percent projection. When Chief Judge Roger Gregory asked why during oral arguments in May, it prompted the following exchange:“This is part of the robust back and forth, with the agency asking hard questions,” said Trey Sibley, who was representing Mountain Valley after the company was allowed to intervene in the case.“I’m missing the robust side of this,” Gregory responded. “This seems like a one-way street. I don’t call that robust. I call that capitulation.”Since April, state regulators have put Mountain Valley on notice that its sediment and erosion control measures were inadequate at more than a dozen locations in Virginia and West Virginia. At least one inspection in the Jefferson National Forest found similar issues, according to filings with FERC.More: Federal appeals court delivers blow to Mountain Valley Pipeline Citing regulatory ‘capitulation,’ federal court blocks construction of Mountain Valley Pipeline through Virginialast_img read more

N95 masks are overkill against coronavirus, Health Ministry official suggests

first_imgAs people across the country rush to stock up on masks due to concerns over the novel coronavirus spread, the Health Ministry has suggested that using N95 masks to prevent infection might be overkill.“The N95 mask is not designed as a health mask. It is designed to be used within a laboratory,” said Achmad Yurianto, the secretary of the ministry’s Disease Control and Environmental Health Directorate General as quoted by Antara.N95-type masks tightly cover the nose and mouth and can filter 95 percent of dust particles from the air to keep them out of the wearer’s respiratory system. They are also more expensive than ordinary surgical masks and are believed to provide more protection from the virus. He added that people might find it hard to breathe if they wore N95 masks for 30 minutes in a room filled with clean air. Hence, an ordinary surgical mask used by doctors and nurses at the hospital should be enough to avoid a coronavirus infection.Read also: In anxious Jakarta, box of face masks worth more than gram of gold“As long as we use it correctly, a [surgical] mask is enough protection from the virus or bacteria,” Achmad said.Although Indonesia has yet to confirm any case of infection, people in Jakarta have rushed to buy N95 masks, driving prices up to Rp 1.3 million (US$94.61) for a box containing 20 masks. In early January, such a box would be sold for around Rp 200,000. Some sellers have also run out of the mask due to a significant increase in demand.He went on to say that the masks should be used mainly by sick people to prevent the spread of the virus while coughing. The mask also protects healthy people from being infected while in public places.The official reminded people to use the mask correctly by making sure it covered the nose and mouth. Most viruses and bacterial infections go through the mucosa in the nose and mouth; therefore, people should not touch their mouth or nose with dirty hands. (hol)Topics :last_img read more

Virtual buyers bypass borders

first_imgBuying site unseen is fast becoming the new norm for southern buyers.Today’s border closure is unlikely to deter tech-savvy southern buyers who are turning to the Gold Coast as a safe haven during the COVID-19 crisis.Agents across the city are reporting a surge in transactions made sight unseen by buyers interstate, with no signs of slowing down. The weather, beaches and property prices are attractive to southern buyers. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Steve Holland Mega mansion set to go under the hammer Top end buyers splash their cash on main river Holiday accomodation provides may feel the pinch of fewer tourists travelling over the border. Photo Matt Roberts/Getty ImagesFive of the nine parties bidding on a Broadbbeach apartment on Wednesday were from Sydney and Melbourne. “Four of them hadn’t viewed the property personally but had done a private FaceTime inspection and were more than happy to proceed on that basis,” said Harcourts Coastal agent Tolemy Stevens. “If you take that back to the numbers two or three months ago, the trend is doubling, if not tripling, with buyers in the marketplace happy to do business via FaceTime.”More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa7 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag1 day ago Holiday rentals may feel the pinch RELATED: Southern buyers flee to Sunshine State The Gold Coast residential real estate sector continues to perform.Ray White Surfers Paradise Group chief executive Andrew Bell said the COVID crisis had made the Gold Coast more attractive than ever.“With the outbreaks in Melbourne and NSW doing all it can to keep things under control, for people down south the Gold Coast looks like a safe haven,” Mr Bell said. While the border closure would restrict the ease of doing business, Mr Bell said buyers had become more confident making virtual transactions.“The weekend before last we sold nine properties to people in Sydney, ACT and Melbourne who bought sight unseen,” he said. “With the greater use of technology, people are not prevented from buying.” While the residential real estate sector is in a strong position to weather the border blockade, holiday accommodation providers may bear the brunt. “Hospitality and holiday rentals will feel the majority of the impact,” said Andrew Henderson, Real Estate Industry of Queensland Gold Coast zone chair. “If the border isn’t open for the next school holidays, it could really hurt a lot of operators.”Mr Henderson said Queenslanders had “taken up the baton” to support tourism by booking holidays within the Sunshine State. last_img read more