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