Virginia Senators, Reps urged to protect Appalachian Trail

Dominion pressuring Congress to change laws in its favor

Yesterday more than 50 organizations from across the state called on Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Virginia’s members of the House of Representatives to push back on the political pressure Dominion Energy is exerting in an effort to create legislation that would allow the utility to get around a federal court decision that has its Atlantic Coast Pipeline project on hold.

“Dominion’s permitting problems for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are entirely self-inflicted—it never made sense to force this project through a national park, two national forests, and some of the steepest mountains in Virginia. But rather than rethink its plans, Dominion wants political favors to get around the laws in place to protect our public lands,” said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “Congress should not open the door for Dominion’s last ditch effort to build this destructive and unnecessary pipeline.”

In December 2018, following a challenge filed by SELC and partners, a federal court ruled that the U.S. Forest Service lacked the authority to authorize the Atlantic Coast Pipeline crossing of the Appalachian Trail. Since that decision, Dominion has searched for a way to get around the law in order to remedy its ill-conceived route through treasured national land.

“We’re not even talking about a project that is something in the public interest of Virginians, we’re talking about a project that is over budget, overdue and, as time passes, we can see is unneeded to meet energy demands,” said Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley’s Executive Director, Kate Wofford. “Why should lawmakers, or anyone, bend over backward for this project to get built?”

The letter to Senators Kaine and Warner also outlines mounting evidence of the lack of public need for the project in Virginia, where the pipeline will cut through more than 300 miles of mountains, forests and private property. 

Dominion’s permitting problems for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are entirely self-inflicted.”

—Senior Attorney Greg Buppert

Dominion wants to put its pipeline across the Appalachian Trail at a place where the trail enjoys its highest protection—national forest lands in Virginia. It would permanently harm the trail’s scenic vistas with a clear-cut swath as wide in places as a seven-lane highway.

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