Pipeline construction halted in National Forests

Fall colors will soon be on display in George Washington National Forest, where developers are trying to build an unneeded, and unwanted, natural gas pipeline. (© Bill Sublette/SELC)

With SELC’s appeal of the U.S. Forest Service’s permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline still before the courts, a panel of judges late yesterday granted our request to put the permit on hold until the appeal is resolved. Without a valid permit in place, construction activities on the National Forests must stop.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond granted the requested stay of the permit, filed by SELC and Sierra Club on behalf of Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Shenandoah Valley Network, Sierra Club, Wild Virginia, and Virginia Wilderness Committee.

This decision is very good news for the forest,” said Senior Attorney, D.J. Gerken. “After FERC’s decision to reauthorize construction last week, pipeline developers were poised to resume clearcutting a way across the two national forests on Monday. Because of this decision, chainsaws will remain idle until the court has had an opportunity to decide our case. For the same reason, FERC should stop construction elsewhere until these issues are resolved, to avoid wasting ratepayer dollars building a route that may not be viable.”

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a 600-mile natural gas pipeline utilities are looking to construct from West Virginia, through Virginia into North Carolina. From the start, the need for this pipeline was questionable and, as the process has proceeded, numerous issues with the permitting and siting of the pipeline continue. As it stands, the more than $6 billion in expected costs for this unneeded infrastructure project will be paid for by customers of the utilities building the pipeline, led by Dominion and Duke Energy, while their shareholders profit.

SELC continues to press for a better outcome and this Friday, September 28th the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in our challenge to approvals issued by the Forest Service and Virginia officials for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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