Dominion Energy to ask Supreme Court to hear pipeline appeal

By The Associated Press

RICHMOND — Dominion Energy said Tuesday it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal after a federal appeals court denied a request to reconsider a ruling throwing out a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Monday.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request from lead pipeline developer Dominion Energy and the U.S. Forest Service to hold a full-court rehearing.

Former Vice President Al Gore, center, and Rev. William Barber, left, attend a town hall to protest the proposed compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Buckingham on Feb. 19. (Photo Credit: AP)

The pipeline would have crossed two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail.

Dominion said it expects to file an appeal in the next 90 days.

A three-judge panel ruled in December that the Forest Service lacks the authority to authorize the trail crossing and had “abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources” when it approved the pipeline crossing the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, as well as a right-of-way across the Appalachian Trial.

The 605-mile (974-kilometer) natural gas pipeline would originate in West Virginia and run through North Carolina and Virginia.

The appellate ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Sierra Club, Virginia Wilderness Committee and other environmental groups. The denial “sends the Atlantic Coast Pipeline back to the drawing board,” the law center and Sierra Club said in a joint statement on Monday.

The groups said they believe it is impossible to build the pipeline “without causing massive landslides and threatening the Appalachian Trail and our clean water.”

After the ruling in December, Dominion Energy spokesman Aaron Ruby said the court’s ruling was “at odds” with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.

“All of these agencies agree that the Forest Service has the full legal authority to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s crossing of the Appalachian Trail,” Ruby said.

Dominion said it is pursuing “legislative and administrative options” in addition to seeking Supreme Court review.

“We are confident that the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture have the authority to resolve the Appalachian Trail crossing issue administratively in a manner that satisfies the Court’s stated objection,” the company said in its statement.

Dominion said it believes the issue can be resolved in time to allow partial construction work to resume later this year.