Federal court strikes down Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit

Fish and Wildlife Service permit did not protect endangered species

The poorly-routed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would wreak havoc on protected lands, protected species, and some of the steepest mountains in Virginia. (© Steven Markos)

We’ve long argued against the necessity of the poorly-routed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which slices through environmentally sensitive and sacred areas on its way from West Virginia, through Virginia, and into North Carolina. Today’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to throw out an important pipeline permit because it failed to protect threatened and endangered species in the pipeline’s path is further evidence that the project has not been well-planned or properly analyzed.

“In its rush to help this pipeline company, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to protect species on the brink of extinction—its most important duty,” says Attorney Patrick Hunter. “This pipeline would blast through some of the last populations of these rare animals.”

Construction on the natural gas pipeline has been stopped since December 2018 when multiple permits were called into question or overturned, including those from the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Those permits are still outstanding.

“Dominion’s permitting problems are entirely self-inflicted—it chose a risky and unreasonable route and didn’t let the Fish and Wildlife Service do its job,” Hunter continues. “Dominion keeps trying to bend the law to its objectives by exerting political pressure on federal agencies instead of following the law like everyone else is required to do.” 

SELC is representing Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, and the Virginia Wilderness Committee in the case. 

Among the many problems for this pipeline is a federal court decision that the Forest Service erred in allowing the pipeline to carve through national forests and was not authorized to allow the project to cross the treasured Appalachian Trail.

Now, the project is several years behind, and more than $2 billion over its original $6 billion budget. If constructed, ratepayers will be expected to pay for the pipeline while the energy companies collect a 15 percent profit. For now, there is no clear path forward for Dominion to construct the pipeline on its current route.

Compelling evidence shows that the ACP is unnecessary for anything other than Dominion and Duke Energy profits.

For more information on this unnecessary pipeline and its devastating impacts: Check out StopTheACP.org for more.

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