Court rejects Atlantic Coast Pipeline request to overturn Appalachian Trail decision

atlantic coast pipelineThe Fourth Circuit declined today 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 Fourth Circuit’s decision, now final, confirmed that this pipeline has to play by the same rules everybody else. The Forest Service has never approved a new pipeline across the Appalachian Trail – but, under intense political pressure, it did for Atlantic, while ignoring routes that would avoid the forest.  Atlantic could reroute, but instead it should scrap this boondoggle and stop running up a bill it wants to stick to customers,” said DJ Gerken, a Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The court also ruled that the Forest Service approval fell short of federal requirements, noting that it failed to take the necessary look at environmental impacts of the project from risks of landslide and erosion and violated its own regulations. In its decision the Court said, “A thorough review of the record leads to the necessary conclusion that the Forest Service abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources.”

“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.

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