Virginia Senators Urged to Protect Appalachian Trail
Dominion pressuring Congress to change laws in its favor
WASHINGTON, DC — Today 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 Dominion Energy’s political pressure seeking legislation allowing it to get around a decision by a federal court.
“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 Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Congress should not open the door for Dominion’s last ditch effort to build this destructive and unnecessary pipeline.”
A federal court in December 2018 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 a 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.
“This unnecessary pipeline threatens to undermine the sweeping vistas and crisp mountain air enjoyed by the millions of visitors traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail, two of America’s most popular national park sites. Virginia does not want or need a pipeline scarring the forested landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains, while also polluting the region’s clean air and water. Congress must require companies like Dominion to comply with existing environmental laws and court orders to ensure our national parks are protected from inappropriate energy projects,” said Pamela Goddard, Senior Program Director, Mid-Atlantic Region for the National Parks Conservation Association.
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.
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