CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is intended to transport natural gas through Harrison, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph and Pocahontas counties, in West Virginia, before heading to Virginia and North Carolina, has been halted since late 2018, following a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 4th Circuit’s decision threw out approval for a permit the pipeline needs to cross two national forests and the Appalachian Trail.
After a request by pipeline officials for the 4th Circuit to reconsider its decision was denied, the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Friday, it was announced that the Supreme Court has agreed to review the 4th Circuit’s ruling.
Construction on the project has been shut down several times due to court and regulatory decisions.
Dominion Energy, which is building the pipeline, issued a statement Friday:
The Supreme Court’s acceptance of our petition is a very encouraging sign and provides a clear path forward to resolve this important issue. The law and the facts are on our side, and we’re supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders. The U.S. Solicitor General, 16 state Attorneys General and more than a dozen industry and labor organizations all agree that the U.S. Forest Service has the authority to approve our Appalachian Trail crossing.
More than 50 other pipelines cross underneath the Appalachian Trail without disturbing its public use. The public interest requires a clear process for the issuance and renewal of permits for such pipelines, and other essential infrastructure. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline should be no different. In fact, the pipeline will be installed more than 600 feet below the surface and more than a half-mile from each side of the Trail to avoid any impacts.
We look forward to making our case before the Supreme Court early next year and expect a final ruling by next June. We are confident in our arguments, and those of the Solicitor General, and are hopeful the Supreme Court will overturn the Fourth Circuit’s decision and uphold the longstanding precedent allowing pipeline crossings of the Appalachian Trail. We remain confident we can resolve the ACP’s other permitting issues to enable resumption of partial construction in a timely manner. A favorable resolution of the Appalachian Trail case will allow us to resume full construction by next summer and complete the project by late 2021.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is more important now than ever. The economic vitality, environmental health and energy security of our region depend on it. Communities across Hampton Roads, Virginia and eastern North Carolina are experiencing chronic shortages of natural gas. The region urgently needs new infrastructure to support the U.S. military, manufacturing, home heating and cleaner electricity as we move away from coal. We remain committed to this project and are confident it will be completed.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was one of 16 attorneys general to file a brief with the Supreme Court in support of the pipeline. Morrisey also released a statement Friday:
“West Virginia strongly supports the Supreme Court’s decision as it signals the court recognizes the profound importance of this case as a matter of federal law and economic impact to Appalachia and the nation as a whole,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We remain hopeful this decision is a precursor to ultimate victory and an end to the unnecessary delays that have negatively impacted the livelihoods of our working class families and the services they receive.”