Category Archives: Appalachian Trail

Hands Across the Appalachian Trail

Hands Across the AT rally on BRPKWY Nelson County VA 09/28/19

A few images (thanks to Kathy Versluys) from Hands Across the Appalachian Trail at Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway, September 28, 2019.

Hands Across the AT rally on BRPKWY Nelson County VA 09/28/19

Above:  State Senator Creigh Deeds reminded us of the importance of “the squeaky wheel,” and urged us to “continue to squeak loudly!

Below:  Standing together!

Hands Across the AT rally on BRPKWY Nelson County VA 09/28/19

“Heads Must Be Exploding in the Board Rooms”

In an update posted on September 18, 2019, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) discusses low natural gas prices now and going forward. They say, “With the news from IHS Markit that natural gas prices in the United States will drop below $2 MMBtu in 2020 and remain low through at least 2024, if not longer, heads must be exploding in the board rooms of oil and gas producers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The profit picture is now imploding. The ramifications run deep, far and wide. The mantra that more pipelines will rationalize the market has been upended. This view from the oil and gas industry never made sense. As IHS Markit makes clear, new pipeline capacity contributes to an oversupply of natural gas forcing down prices and profits.”

The IEEFA update is based on a new forecast from IKS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The update notes that:

  • New pipeline capacity contributes to an oversupply of natural gas forcing down prices and profits.
  • Smaller exploration and production companies, already suffering, are likely to continue to fail.
  • The oil and gas equipment and supply sector will worsen.
  • The global market remains oversupplied, with limited profit potential on the export side. Increased exports from the U.S. will deepen the oversupply.

In a September 18 article, OilPrice says, “While gas has become the primary source of electricity production, technological advancements are about to make fossil fuels more expensive and therefore uneconomic compared to renewables. The tipping point could come much sooner than certain utilities and investors are expecting, which could hit current investment plans for gas-fired power plants.”

Read the IHS Markit press release here, read the IEEFA update here, and read the OilPrice article here.

Despite the continuing predictions of the decreasing demand for fossil fuels and the explosive increase in both demand and capacity for renewables, Dominion continues its efforts to build the unnecessary Atlantic Coast Pipeline. On September 25, 2019, Maplight and the Huffington Post discussed “The $109 Million Lobbying Effort To Run A Pipeline Through National Treasures.”

Maplight says, “A trio of utility giants building a natural gas pipeline that would cut across the Appalachian Trail has spent more than $109 million lobbying federal lawmakers and officials since the $7.8 billion project was unveiled five years ago, according to a MapLight analysis. The controversial 600-mile-long project, which is being compared to the Dakota Access Pipeline because of its stiff opposition from Native and local communities, would bisect the fabled trail, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway and a pair of national forests. Appeals courts have thrown out seven separate permits for the project, with sentiment running so high that one judge wrote an opinion using a quote from The Lorax to blast the U.S. Forest Service for its failure ‘to speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.’ Despite the setbacks, the utilities have continued to press their case, hoping the rulings can be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress.”

On other words, Dominion is pushing hard to build a pipeline that industry analysts say is well on its way to being both unneeded and outmoded.

Important Action Alert from Wild Virginia

An action alert from David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s Conservation Director:

We’ve just received word that a special deal may soon be attached to a bill in Congress to allow Dominion to change the rules in their favor so they can fast track the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. We need your help today to send a strong message to our elected representatives.  We need them to know to watch for tricks like this from Dominion and to be ready to vote in opposition to any legislation like this.

The time is NOW to contact your senators and representative in Congress today and urge them to oppose any legislation that makes way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.   Don’t know your senators or representative? No problem!  Find out here.

Note: We don’t currently have a bill number or specific information about the measure that is circulating in Congress but don’t let that deter you from making the contacts. Time could be of the essence and you shouldn’t wait – it is important that our legislators be looking for these attempts whenever they arise and act quickly.

Background:
The proposed route for Dominion’s 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been a mess from the beginning. It carves through family farms, steep mountain ridges, and public water supplies, and it is slated to cross the Appalachian Trail on U.S. Forest Service land, a move that federal judges say is not legal. Rather than reconsider their poorly-planned project, Dominion is asking the U.S. Congress to change laws to make way for its unneeded gas pipeline.

We will oppose Dominion’s efforts and call on you to do the same – TODAY!  Tell your senators and your representative in Congress that you oppose legislation that would change the rules to make way for Dominion’s unneeded and destructive pipeline.

Thank you again for stepping up and taking action to protect the mountain streams, family farms, private property, water supplies, and Appalachian Trail.

Sincerely,

David Sligh 
Wild Virginia
Conservation Director

 

Useful Info Sheets from SELC

On August 28, 2019, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed an opposition brief in the US Supreme Court on August 28, 2019, arguing that the Court should not agree to review the Fourth Circuit opinion as requested by the petitioners, US Forest Service and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The Fourth Circuit decision blocked the ACP from coming across Reid’s Gap. (See SELC Files Opposition Brief)

SELC has created two fine handouts to inform people about Dominion’s actions and the ACP:

Print copies and circulate!

SELC Files Opposition Brief

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed an opposition brief in the US Supreme Court on August 28, 2019, arguing that the Court should not agree to review the Fourth Circuit opinion as requested by the petitioners, US Forest Service and Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Fourth Circuit decision blocked the ACP from coming across Reid’s Gap.

The question is “Whether the United States Forest Service has statutory authority under the Mineral Leasing Act to grant a gas pipeline right-of-way across the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.”

The brief discusses the Mineral Leasing Act, and argues that:

  • This case is not a suitable vehicle to address the question presented because petitioners seek review of just one of the Fourth Circuit’s four independent bases for its judgment, and the decision does not conflict with other Circuits
  • The question presented does not warrant review because it does not present an issue of national importance, since the ACP and other pipelines can still cross the Appalachian Trail, and other Forest Service authorities and rights of way are unaffected
  • The Fourth Circuit’s decision is correct and supported by the record, namely that the entire Appalachian Trail is a unit of the National Park System, the Mineral Leasing Act excludes all federal land in the National Park System owned by any federal agency, the ACP argument that the Appalachian Trail is merely a “Footpath” or “Right-of-Way” has no legal basis, and the Park Service administers the entire Appalachian Trail

Read the full brief here.

16 State AGs Urge Supreme Court to Take Forest Service Case

The article below is from Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance ABRA Update 239, August 1, 2019. [We note that the effort was led by the West Virginia Attorney General, but only one of the other AGs that signed on is from a state with the AT running through it (Georgia), most of the signers are from fossil fuel energy producing states, and the AGs for states other than West Virginia that are on the proposed ACP route, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, did not sign.]

Sixteen Republican State Attorneys General, led by West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to accept the appeal made by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP, LLC) to overturn the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to vacate the U.S. Forest Service permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail. The ACP, LLC filed its appeal with the Supreme Court on June 25. It was joined in that request by the U.S. Solicitor General. The AGs’ brief, filed July 29, stated as reasons for its support of the ACP appeal:

  • The Fourth Circuit decision was wrong, as it misread the Mineral leasing Act (MLA) and because it undermined the MLA’s goal to balance conservation with energy development;
  • Shuttering construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline harms states on both ends of its route;
  • The decision could severely constrain energy development nationwide; and
  • The decision undermines important interests beyond pipeline development. (On this final point, the brief claims that the decision “could thus disable any federal agency from being able to authorize power lines and telecommunications infrastructure across the Appalachian Trail, as well as other trails that cross forest land.”)

Joining WV Attorney General Morrisey (who is the principal author of the brief) in signing on to the brief were the AGs of Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.