End of the Trail: Supreme Court to Hear Atlantic Coast Pipeline Appeal

Institute for Energy Law Oil & Gas E-Report

(by Adam Speer)

On October 4, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari to hear an
appeal of the Fourth Circuit’s decision vacating the United States Forest Service’s special use permit authorizing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to cross beneath a segment of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. In Cowpasture River Preservation Association v. Forest Service, 911 F. 3d 150 (4th Cir. 2018), a three-judge panel from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the United States Forest Service lacked the statutory authority pursuant to the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) to grant a pipeline right-of-way across the Appalachian Trail. The Fourth Circuit’s decision halted the construction of the ACP. If the decision stands, it could impede the completion of the ACP and affect other current and future pipeline projects along the east coast, like the Mountain Valley Pipeline, that would also cross the Trail.

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