Pipeline opponents, trail advocates travel to Washington for Supreme Court hearing

Published: Feb. 24, 2020 at 7:10 PM EST
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Maury Johnson got in line at 6:30 Sunday evening, prepared for a cold night on the sidewalk outside the Supreme Court.

He was there as a landowner whose property lies in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and as a defender of the Appalachian Trail.

"My involvement with the Appalachian Trail probably started 45 years ago as a teenager," Johnson told WDBJ7 in a telephone interview. "And this case has huge ramifications for the trail regardless of what the ruling is."

Johnson was one of the pipeline opponents and Appalachian Trail advocates from our region, who traveled to Washington to attend the Supreme Court hearing. He was the first in line.

"The big question is: If you want to cross the Appalachian Trail on federal land, can the Forest Service give you a permit to do that, or do you require an act of Congress." explained Diana Christopulos, a pipeline opponent and Appalachian Trail advocate.

The case before the Supreme Court deals specifically with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but it has implications for the Mountain Valley Pipeline as well, because both projects would cross the Appalachian Trail.

Christopulos is watching the case closely, but said even a ruling that favors pipeline opponents is unlikely to derail the MVP.

"They could go a different way, just move the route, and that's probably what they would do," Christopulos said. "It wouldn't stop the pipeline."

And a spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline agreed.

In an email Monday afternoon, Natalie Cox said MVP has evaluated alternatives that would re-route the project, and will choose the best path forward once a decision is made.

She said the company remains confident the Mountain Valley Pipeline will be in service by the end of the year.

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