The U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of 7-2, rendered a very positive decision in the case of the U.S. Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association.
In its decision, the Justices reversed the decision of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in its ruling that the Department of Interior’s decision to assign responsibility over the Appalachian Trail to the National Park Service did not remove the U.S. Forest Service’s authority to issue a special use permit to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
On February 12, 2019, the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia proudly gave its support to Dominion Energy Inc.’s planned construction of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline when it joined with a consortium of national and state trade associations in an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals to reverse the decision of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
This case originated when the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct and operate a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina. A 600 foot segment of that pipeline needed to “cross” the Appalachian Trail in the George Washington National Forest. In reality, the pipe crossing would be 600 feet below the surface of the trail.
In 2018, the U.S. Forest Service issued the permits for this construction, but that was challenged by the Cowpasture River Preservation Association, which contended the Forest Service did not have the authority to issue this permit. The U. S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit agreed with Cowpasture River Preservation Association, leading to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 7-2 ruling eliminates the biggest obstacle to the 600-mile pipeline, which will carry a projected 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in West Virginia to customers in North Carolina and Virginia.
Bloomberg reported today this decision will now allow the project to shift to lining up permits from the Forest Service and Dominion saying it expects to begin construction this year and have the pipeline fully in service by early 2022.
It is also important to know that more than 50 other pipelines have safely crossed the Appalachian Trail without disturbing its public use.
IOGAWV applauds the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and supports the restart of construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The full opinion of the Court can be found here: click here.
“IOGAWV notes that many elected West Virginia officials have lent their support and resources towards championing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and similar pipeline projects that will ensure residential and commercial customers have access to clean burning natural gas produced in West Virginia, and which will support many West Virginia jobs. In particular, Governor Jim Justice, Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, Congressman David McKinley, Congressman Alex Mooney and Congresswoman Carol Miller have been supportive of the project, and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led a group of Attorneys General from throughout the nation who supported the pipeline in litigation pending before the Supreme Court – IOGAWV thanks those officials for their efforts on this important project.”