Fourth Circuit Vacates U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 Biological Opinion for Natural Gas Pipeline

March 2022

Environmental, Energy & Climate Change Law and Regulation Reporter, Volume 2, Number 6


On February 3, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that the analysis conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in its 2020 Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project (Project) was arbitrary and capricious. See Appalachian Voices, et. al. v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, Case No. 20-2159 (4th Cir. Feb. 3, 2022). More specifically, the court concluded that the FWS failed to adequately consider the Project’s impacts on two species of endangered fish, the Roanoke logperch (logperch) and the candy darter (darter) within the action area, and relied on post hoc rationalizations. The court vacated the FWS 2020 Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement and remanded for further proceedings. The FWS must now reassess the impacts to the two species in the Project’s action area.

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