Supreme Court Gives Go-Ahead for Pipeline Under AT in Virginia
The US Supreme Court ruled on Monday, June 15, that the US Forest Service has the authority to allow a natural gas pipeline to run under the Appalachian Trail in southwestern Virginia.
The decision appears to resolve a dispute among federal agencies about authority over the AT.
The 7-2 ruling also gives the go-ahead for construction of the $8 billion, 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina.
The ruling was a victory for Dominion Energy Inc. and President Donald Trump’s administration, both of which appealed a lower court ruling that halted construction of the pipeline.
The dispute lies with the Department of the Interior’s decision to make the National Park Service responsible for the AT. Before the court’s decision, whether that move also transferred authority of lands underneath the trail had not been resolved.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said the administrative arrangement did not remove the Forest Service’s power to permit construction under the trail.
The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said in 2018 that the US Forest Service lacked the authority to grant a right of way for the pipeline where it crosses the Appalachian Trail in the national forest land because the trail was overseen by the National Park Service.
Featured photo by Clay Bonnyman Evans
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