The companies building the US$8-billion Atlantic Coast gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina and Virginia will be allowed to tunnel beneath the storied Appalachian Trail, following a 7-2 ruling Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dominion Energy, which is developing the pipeline along with Duke Energy, said it now expects to begin construction this year and open the line in early 2022.
The Supreme Court ruling was written by Justice Clarence Thomas, and opposed by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor.
“A federal appeals court had thrown out the permit, saying the U.S. Forest Service lacked the authority to approve the right-of-way because the Appalachian Trail is controlled by the National Park Service,” Bloomberg Green reports. “Dominion and the Trump administration contended that while the National Park Service manages the Appalachian Trail, the underlying land is part of a national forest—putting it within the Forest Service’s jurisdiction. The U.S. Mineral Leasing Act says the Forest Service doesn’t have jurisdiction over ‘lands in the National Park System’.”
With the Supreme Court ruling in hand, the companies will concentrate on securing the remaining Forest Service permits they need, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Brandon Barnes.