Fourth Circuit Denies ACP Request for Review

On February 25, 2019, the Fourth Circuit DENIED Dominion’s request for the full circuit to review and then reverse an earlier panel decision throwing out permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Argus Media reported, “A federal appeals court will not reconsider a decision that the developer of the $7bn Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline has warned would ‘imperil’ pipeline construction from Georgia to Maine.”

The report continues, “The 4th Circuit in its ruling said the US Forest Service was unable to grant a right-of-way across the hiking trail, as the agency had done, because it is managed as a national park rather than as a forest. …. The US Forest Service earlier this month also petitioned the court to reconsider the decision. The developer of the 1.9 Bcf/d Mountain Valley pipeline, which follows a similar path as the Atlantic Coast pipeline, filed a ‘friends of the court’ brief echoing concerns that the ruling could disrupt its project.”

Additionally, “Company executives, on an earnings call earlier this month, repeatedly raised the possibility of appealing the decision to the US Supreme Court. This approach would increase project costs by $250mn, to $7.25bn-7.75bn, and delay completion of the project until the end of 2021, they said.”

A press release from the Southern Environmental Law Center says, “Today, the Fourth Circuit declined to reconsider its December ruling that the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to authorize the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from crossing the Appalachian Trail. The Court also found that Atlantic and the Forest Service ignored routes that would avoid the National Forest. Today’s decision sends the Atlantic Coast Pipeline back to the drawing board.”

The SELC press release concludes, “‘The Fourth Circuit has once again made it clear what everyone but the corporate polluters behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline already know: it is impossible to construct this fracked gas project without causing massive landslides and threatening the Appalachian Trail and our clean water. Any proposal to threaten our communities, our clean water, and our national parks and public lands simply cannot ever be permitted. It’s past time that the companies behind the disastrous Atlantic Coast Pipeline abandon this dirty and dangerous project once and for all,’ said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Nathan Matthews.”

Read SELC’s full press release here.

On February 26, 2019, Dominion indicated they plan to file an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States in the next 90 days.  Read the Dominion statement here.