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Morrisey-led coalition seeks to protect pipeline construction

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are leading a 17-state coalition in asking a federal appeals court to reverse a lower court ruling that brought pipeline construction to a grinding halt nationwide.

The coalition’s brief, filed late Wednesday, argues a federal district judge inappropriately transformed a case challenging one project into a nationwide injunction that affected new oil and gas pipelines in every state – no matter the project’s length, purpose or minimal environmental effect.

The coalition won a stay in July at the U.S. Supreme Court. Now its member states seek ultimate reversal of the lower court ruling.

“Such overreach by a federal district judge cannot stand,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Aside from the ruling being overly broad and deeply flawed as a matter of fairness and court procedure, it presents serious consequences for our national economy and causes unnecessary instability and disruption for the dedicated pipeliners of West Virginia as well as those who depend upon their success.”

The original lawsuit focused upon a permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline. The coalition argues the district court order inappropriately used that issue to strike down all projects that employed the same permitting process nationwide.

Unfortunately, that decision already led to a deeply disappointing move by developers to halt construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – an announcement that came days before the Supreme Court’s stay and one that will cost West Virginians more than 1,500 jobs.

The coalition contends the district court ruling, if allowed to stand, would make needed infrastructure projects significantly more costly and time-consuming — and potentially render some completely unfeasible, thus eliminating an untold number of jobs.

The West Virginia- and Texas-led brief carries support from attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.

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