Federal court rules against Atlantic Coast Pipeline

4th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the National Park Service's permit

RICHMOND, Va. – The Atlantic Coast Pipeline faces problems similar to the now-halted Mountain Valley Pipeline. 

On Monday, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the National Park Service's permit for the ACP. 

As a result of this decision, if ACP construction continues along its 600-mile-route from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, it will be operating without two crucial federal permits. 

The ACP is proposed to go through Highland, Augusta and Nelson counties. 

“This is an example of what happens when dangerous projects are pushed through based on politics rather than science,” said D.J. Gerken, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This pipeline project was flawed from the start and Dominion and Duke’s pressure tactics to avoid laws that protect our public lands, water and wildlife are now coming to light.”

The SELC is calling on the Federal Regulatory Commission to stop all construction along the ACP route due to the decision from the 4th Circuit Court and the recent stop work order placed on the MVP. 

“It’s time to pause and take a look at this project for what it is an unnecessary pipeline that’s being pushed through to benefit Dominion Energy, not the people of Virginia and North Carolina,” said Greg Buppert, senior attorney for the SELC. 

According to a statement from the Sierra Club, Virginians will pay $2 billion more for the ACP than they would if the utility used existing pipelines.

There are other permits in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals under challenge in regards to the ACP. 

Below is the full statement from Dominion Energy spokesperson Aaron Ruby in response to the court's decision on Monday: 

"We will work with the agencies to resolve the Fourth Circuit Court’s concerns and reinstate our permits as soon as possible. We believe the Court’s concerns can be promptly addressed through additional review by the agencies without causing unnecessary delay to the project. In the meantime, we will continue making progress with construction in West Virginia and North Carolina. 

"The court’s opinion clarifies its May 15 order on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Incidental Take Statement. We have already provided the agency with all of the information necessary to issue a revised Incidental Take Statement that complies with the court’s ruling. We anticipate the agency will do so shortly. The Fish & Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion, the broader permit authorizing construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, remains in place.

"As we have stated previously, the court’s ruling on the Incidental Take Statement impacts only a small portion of the ACP route – roughly 20 miles in West Virginia, 80 miles in Virginia and no areas in North Carolina. We have avoided these areas since the court’s initial ruling on May 15, and we will continue avoiding them until the agency issues a revised Incidental Take Statement.

"With respect to the National Park Service’s approval to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway, the court’s opinion confirms the agency’s authority to issue the permit but remands the permit to allow the agency to correct certain errors and omissions in the permit record. We believe the extensive public record and mitigation requirements already in place provide ample support for the agency to promptly reissue the permit. 

"The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been the most thoroughly reviewed infrastructure project in the history of our region. Today’s court ruling is further evidence of this unprecedented scrutiny and the high standard that is being applied to the project."



About the Author:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a content producer in July 2018.