Park Service Abandons Defense of Latest Pipeline Permit

Richmond, VA — The National Park Service has voluntarily abandoned its defense of the agency’s latest permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. NPS issued the revised permit after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in August 2018, vacated its original authorization for the pipeline. On January 16, 2019 the Park Service asked the Fourth Circuit to remand the permit back to the agency so that it could vacate the permit and reconsider whether issuing it was appropriate in light of legal issues raised in the appeal. The agency also noted it needed to reconsider the permit in light of the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision that the pipeline could not cross the Appalachian Trail on national forest land, immediately adjacent to the proposed crossing point for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Today the court granted the Park Service’s request to remand the permit back to the agency for reconsideration. 

“The National Park Service ignored the law and skipped its own procedures to rush out approvals for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – twice. We hope it will take this opportunity to look at Atlantic’s boondoggle with fresh eyes and recognize that this unnecessary pipeline has no place in the most-visited part of the National Park System,” said SELC Senior Attorney D.J. Gerken.

“Unlawfully crossing a National Park is just one of the many problems with the dirty, dangerous Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ACP previously lost permits from the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Army Corps of Engineers, and its FERC Certificate is currently being litigated. The ACP is an unnecessary threat to our health, water, climate, and communities and it shouldn’t be built at a time when clean, renewable energy is abundant and affordable,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Nathan Matthews.

“Our national parks are precious American lands loved and visited by millions of people every year. The National Park Service should uphold the standard that we expect for our parks—protecting them for our children and grandchildren to enjoy and cherish,” Mark Miller, executive director Virginia Wilderness Committee.

                                                           ###

For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org