Supreme Court to hear pipeline case

Published: Feb. 21, 2020 at 7:38 PM EST
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On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments that involve two natural gas pipeline projects in Virginia. The case, which deals specifically with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could have an impact on the Mountain Valley Pipeline as well.

The case the Supreme Court will hear on Monday deals with just a small portion of the ACP's 600-mile route, the point where the natural gas pipeline would cross the Appalachian Trail.

On Thursday, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said at least 1500 jobs in his state, and hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue hang in the balance.

"You cannot set up an impenetrable federal barrier to economic development," Morrisey said at the Charleston news conference.

It's a jurisdictional question the justices will decide, whether the U.S. Forest Service had the authority to grant a right-of-way under the Appalachian Trail.

"There's an eight billion dollar pipeline that's riding on this case, and there are other pipelines including Mountain Valley that will be affected by this case," said Noah Sachs, Professor of Law at the University of Richmond.

"And what's interesting is there's not a lot of precedent on this. I've checked and there just aren't that many cases in the past that have ever interpreted these statutes."

Pipeline opponents in the region are watching closely,

Dan Crawford is the Sierra Club's Roanoke Group Chair.

"What I want the most, is for us to be extremely careful when we start dealing with national treasures like the Appalachian Trail, world renowned, and a source of tremendous outdoor recreation and gratification for thousands of people every year," Crawford said.

Even if the court rules in favor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the decision won't green light the project. There are other challenges involving the protection of endangered species and environmental rules that are still in play for both ACP and MVP.

But the arguments on Monday and the Supreme Court opinion later this year could be a key factor in whether the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and perhaps other projects, eventually move forward.

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