Conservation groups file challenge to National Forest Service’s hasty pipeline decision

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will cross several sensitive areas along its 600-mile path, including the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. (© Brent McGuirt)

This week SELC and The Sierra Club, on behalf of a coalition of conservation groups, filed suit in federal court against the National Forest Service over approvals recently issued to developers of the fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“Political pressure forced approval of this boondoggle through steep slopes and landslide-prone areas in a treasured national forest,” said Senior Attorney D.J. Gerken. “Forest Service staff warned of the impacts this project would have, but the agency ignored them and granted special exceptions to let these pipeline developers get their way.”

The Forest Service repeatedly requested additional information from developers yet moved ahead and approved this risky project with its questions unanswered. The pipeline is slated to cut through 20 miles of steep, rugged mountainous regions of national forest land in West Virginia and Virginia. Much of this land provides habitat for rare and endangered species and is land that is regularly used by hikers and campers.

Pipeline developers have yet to receive all the permits needed for this project, including a water certification from Virginia meant to ensure protection of sensitive waterways. The Forest Service should not allow any work to move forward on national forest lands until this project is fully permitted.

Today’s petition was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of the Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Highlanders For Responsible Development, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Shenandoah Valley Network, Sierra Club, Virginia Wilderness Committee, and Wild Virginia.