The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently threw out the National Park Service's permit to build the controversial, $6.5 billion Atlantic Coast pipeline to tunnel under the Blue Ridge Parkway.
As a result of that action, the Southern Environmental Law Center’s legal team asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to halt all construction and last week federal officials issued a work stoppage on Dominion Energy’s planned 600-mile natural gas pipeline, running from West Virginia to North Carolina.
“What is clear from today’s Park Service ruling is, there is now a 600-mile proposed project with a big hole in the middle,” said attorney DJ Gerken, who successfully argued the center’s cases.
Dominion Energy, which is spearheading the project, says it plans to eventually resume building.
On the same day, the center filed suit and sought an immediate temporary restraining order to block an “illegal power grab by the unconstitutional” North Carolina General Assembly.
The Blue Ridge Parkway.
This is the second time in several months that the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the center and its clients, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club and the Virginia Wilderness Committee.
In May, the center appeared in court to argue against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's and the National Park Service's permits for the Atlantic Coast pipeline.
The court issued a “remarkably quick and strong decision,” vacating the wildlife agency’s permit to harm threatened and endangered species on the grounds that it did not meet legal standards to protect these animals.
The three-judge panel followed up with a second opinion last week, again agreeing with the center and throwing out the Park Service' right-of-way permit.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently halted construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline because it, too, lacked a valid right-of-way permit, reports the center.
The center has petitioned commission to withdraw its permit and immediately halt construction on the pipeline, as well.
The center has filed five separate, coordinated federal lawsuits challenging the pipeline's potential impacts on land, water and wildlife, arguing that the $6.5 billion project is unnecessary to meet future gas demands.