SELC Press Release on SCOTUS Decision to Hear ACP Suit

On October 4, 2019, the Southern Environmental Law Centered issues the following press release:

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court decision that revoked a U.S. Forest Service permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals stated the Forest Service lacked authority to grant approval to Dominion and Duke Energy to cross the Appalachian Trail on federal land.

Since construction on the ACP began last year, seven crucial permits have been vacated, resulting in a halt to construction since December of 2018. Dominion Energy proposed this pipeline in 2014. In the years since, the energy landscape has changed dramatically and we now know that this $7.8 billion pipeline is costly, unneeded, dangerous, and will only add to our greenhouse gas emission problems and burden Duke and Dominion customers with the cost for decades to come.

In response to the decision, the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Sierra Club issued the following joint statement:

“We will defend the lower court’s decision in this case. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a dangerous, costly, and unnecessary project and we won’t stand by while Duke and Dominion Energy try to force it on our public lands, threatening people’s health, endangered species, iconic landscapes, and clean water along the way.”

Vote to Increase Land Conservation in Nelson and Amherst Counties

Here’s your opportunity to increase efforts to conserve land in Nelson and Amherst counties in the Appalachian Trail landscape … just by voting online!

For the past several years, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) have been partners in saving land in Virginia. The board president of the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy, Dr. Diana Christopulos, is one of nine national finalists for the Cox Conserves Heroes Award. Diana won the competition for Virginia and is now competing against eight other finalists from Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Washington state. If Diana wins the national competition, she’ll receive $50,000, which will go to the Southwest and Central Virginia Regional Office of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Here is why this is important to our area. The ATC is now providing grant funding to the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy to hire a staff person in order to increase conservation of land in Nelson and Amherst counties in the broader Appalachian Trail landscape. Two volunteer members of the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy board who live in Nelson (Susan McSwain) and Amherst (Wendy Kendrick) – would like to encourage you to vote for Diana in order to put the prize money to work here in our own back yard.

To see a video on Dr. Christopulos and vote for her, click here. You can vote once per email address, so feel free to vote with both work and personal accounts. Deadline to cast your vote is October 15.

News You May Have Missed


There’s been a lot going on – here are some news items from our In the News page you may have missed (many additional interesting news articles on that page).

Supreme Court Will Hear Forest Service Case

Breaking news – The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Friday morning, October 4, 2019, that it will hear the appeal by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the Cowpasture River, et. al. vs. Forest Service case. No date for oral argument has been set.

This case  will consider the Forest Service’s authority to permit the Atlantic Coast pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail.  We’ll post more on the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision as information becomes available.

Friends of Nelson Public Meeting: FERC into FREC Road Show


Sunday October 20, 2019 – The Nelson Center, gather at 5:30, meeting begins at 6:00. Ted Glick, from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), will be our featured speaker, and will show a short film followed by discussion. We’ll also have announcements and updates. This is a kid-friendly event, and there will be an art station run by BXE’s Maple Osterbrink.

Join activists from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) on their FERC Into FREC roadshow! BXE is traveling from the shalefields of Pennsylvania down through the path of the MVP and ACP pipelines in West Virginia and Virginia. BXE members will screen their short film “FERC Doesn’t Work” and hold a community discussion on the fight to turn the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC). FERC is the federal agency responsible for the regulation of all fossil fuel infrastructure and pipelines that cross state lines. As such FERC is a lynchpin in the nationwide movement against fossil fuels and for climate justice!

Ted Glick has been a progressive activist, organizer and writer since 1968. He has prioritized the climate crisis issue since 2004 and was one of the founders of Beyond Extreme Energy in 2014. Following retirement after nine years as the National Campaign Coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, he has worked since as a volunteer with BXE and several local and state organizations in New Jersey fighting climate disruption and the expansion of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Since 2000 he has written a nationally-distributed Future Hope column of political, social and cultural commentary.

Maple Osterbrink has volunteered for peace, justice and earth conservation since the 1960’s. She “took the earth-conservation pledge as a young girl scout and has held to it.” She retired from several “almost-careers” to North Carolina and is helping out many organizations including BXE, APPPL, Workers’ Assembly and the Raging Grannies. She worked to preserve wetlands in New Hampshire in the mid-90’s as a town conservation commissioner. She is “sick of the corruption, theft and poisoning of democracy, peace, water, food and sustainability.” As an artist she will have mini-projects to do with children, or adults, during events.

Supreme Court: Pipeline Fights to Watch

In an article published on September 30, 2019, E&E News considers “4 pipeline fights to watch this term.” The justices have the opportunity to consider:

  1. The Forest Service’s authority to permit the Atlantic Coast pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail. “In Atlantic Coast v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Dominion Energy Inc. and other Atlantic Coast developers are fighting a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the Forest Service cannot authorize a path for the pipeline below the Appalachian Trail. The solicitor general filed a companion brief on behalf of the Forest Service. Environmental groups, meanwhile, have urged the justices not to take the case.”
  2. Whether developers of the Mountain Valley project can lawfully seize private property before paying. “Givens v. Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC challenges developers’ ability to immediately take private property for constructing the pipeline before providing payment, an approach known as ‘quick take.’ Their petition aims to overturn precedent set by the 2004 4th Circuit case East Tennessee Natural Gas Co. v. Sage, which allowed pipeline developers to begin construction on private property before paying, provided they had a preliminary injunction. The case is different from typical eminent domain disputes because it doesn’t challenge the legality of the practice, but rather when pipeline developers can take and build on the land.”
  3. A case involving state lands takings for the PennEast pipeline. “Energy lawyers are also closely watching whether a recent decision by the 3rd Circuit on condemning state-owned lands for pipeline development will eventually land in front of the Supreme Court. This month, the court ruled that the developer of the 120-mile PennEast pipeline through Pennsylvania and New Jersey could not use condemnation orders to build significant portions of the line through land owned by the Garden State. The case raises issues of sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and could have important implications for the expansion of pipeline projects in states that oppose oil and gas development. Judges for the 3rd Circuit said that pipeline developers can’t take a state to court for not selling an easement to build a pipeline.”
  4. Challenges over gas exports because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority to delegate eminent domain power to pipeline builders is limited to projects in service of interstate commerce. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently highlighted the issue in a decision over the use of eminent domain to build the Nexus natural gas pipeline through Ohio and Michigan. Those opposed to the pipeline argued that FERC improperly issued a certificate for the project based in part on commitments made by Canadian shippers. That raises the question of whether it is possible to justify that a project designed to supply energy to citizens of foreign countries will serve the public good. The case not only could affect pipelines that cross into Canada and Mexico, but also could have implications for pipelines feeding liquefied natural gas facilities.”

Read the full article here.