Today, the nation’s highest court agreed to review a lower court decision, which revoked a U.S. Forest Service permit for the unnecessary and destructive Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The original ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stated the Forest Service lacked authority to grant approval to Dominion and Duke Energy to cross the Appalachian Trail on national forest lands with their 600-mile, $7.8 billion pipeline.
“A thorough review of the record leads to the necessary conclusion that the Forest Service abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources,” the lower court said in its December 2018 decision.
Dominion chose Virginia’s national forest lands as the location it proposed to run its pipeline across the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. This would permanently harm the trail’s scenic vistas with a clear-cut swath as wide—in some places—as a seven-lane highway.
“The George Washington National Forest, Monongahela National Forest, and the Appalachian Trail are national treasures. The administration was far too eager to trade them away for a pipeline conceived to deliver profit to its developers, not gas to consumers,” said Attorney Patrick Hunter when the permit was thrown out in December. “This pipeline is unnecessary and asking fracked gas customers to pay developers to blast this boondoggle through our public land only adds insult to injury.”
Since construction on the ACP began last year, federal courts or the federal agencies themselves have vacated or suspended seven crucial permits, resulting in a halt to construction since last December. Dominion Energy and Duke Energy proposed this pipeline in 2014, and in the years since, the energy landscape has changed dramatically. We now know that this nearly $8 billion pipeline is costly, unneeded, dangerous, and will only add to our greenhouse gas emission problems and burden Duke and Dominion customers with the cost for decades to come.
In response to the Supreme Court decision, SELC and the Sierra Club have issued the following joint statement:
“We will defend the lower court’s decision in this case. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a dangerous, costly, and unnecessary project and we won’t stand by while Duke and Dominion Energy try to force it on our public lands, threatening people’s health, endangered species, iconic landscapes, and clean water along the way."
In this case, SELC is representing local conservation organizations the Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, and Virginia Wilderness Committee.