Leftist 4th Circuit revokes construction permits for Atlantic Coast Pipeline…
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) A federal appeals court invalidated a construction license for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Monday.
The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a right-of-way permit given by the National Park Service for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project where it would cross the Blue Ridge Parkway would “violate Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s certificate of public convenience and necessity,” Utility Dive reported.
Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, and Southern Company have begun construction for the 600-mile long pipeline that runs from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina.
The Southern Environmental Law Center argued against the NPS permit, saying it failed to account for how foresting would undermine the conservation and scenic goals of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The 3-member panel of the increasingly left-leaning 4th Circuit Court agreed.
The panel said the NPS right-of-way permit “is not accompanied by any explanation, let alone a satisfactory one.”
“We find it remarkable that counsel representing the National Park Service, which is charged with ‘providing for the enjoyment of the scenery, natural and historic objects and wild life in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,’ would seem to take a litigation position that regards the premier conservation agency’s role as no more than highway maintenance,” said Chief Judge Roger Gregory, a Clinton appointee.
Pipeline developers said they would request NPS to reissue the permit, while environmentalists called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to shut down the project entirely, The News & Observer reported.
The ruling will not cause “unnecessary” delays, according to Tammie McGee, Duke Energy spokeswoman.
The court also justified its decision in May to overturn permits issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The panel said FWS did not consider the impact the project would have on five species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Since the lawsuit put SELC, who litigated on behalf of Sierra Club and the Virginia Wilderness Committee, against the NPS and the FWS, the 4th Circuit did not have an opportunity to force the FERC to stop the project altogether.
But the court issued a warning to FERC, implying a lawsuit directly challenging FERC would win.
“FERC’s authorization for ACP to begin construction is conditioned on the existence of valid authorizations from both FWS and NPS,” Gregory wrote. “Absent such authorizations, ACP, should it continue to proceed with construction, would violate FERC’s certificate of public convenience and necessity.”
The 4th Circuit vacated two permits, given by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, for the 300-mile long Mountain Valley Pipeline on July 27.
Shortly after, the FERC issued a stop-work order, Utility Dive reported.
Environmentalists hope the 4th Circuit will force the FERC into the same option for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
In the meantime, ACP developers said they will cease construction on the 20 miles of pipeline that required permits.
The 15-seat court consists of six Barack Obama appointees, four Bill Clinton appointees, three Bush appointees, and one Reagan appointee. There is one vacant seat.