Duncan Leads U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief Supporting Atlantic Coast Pipeline

December 12, 2019
Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03), along with 61 Members of Congress, filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to further domestic energy transportation in the United States.

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03), along with 61 Members of Congress, filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to further domestic energy transportation in the United States.

“Domestic energy production and transportation is critical to ensuring safe, reliable, and affordable energy to consumers around the country. Unfortunately, domestic energy has been under attack by environmental activists with short-sighted, baseless, and false information on pipeline permitting and construction. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was halted due to this exact activism against the well-established congressional support for domestic energy production and infrastructure. I’m encouraged the Supreme Court agreed to consider this case, and I look forward to hearing the argument presented to the Court in February.”

You can read the brief HERE.

The case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, February 24, 2020.

Background:

Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, and Southern Company were constructing a $7.5 billion, 600-mile natural gas pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), from West Virginia to North Carolina until the project was halted in December of 2018. Despite clearing numerous environmental reviews, environmental activist groups challenged every permit. Specifically, these lawsuits included challenges around two rights-of-way at the same location needed to go 700 feet below the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway. The Obama Administration started this approval process, and it was completed by the Trump Administration.

The Cowpasture River Preservation Association led the environmental groups challenging the permit. In December 2018, a three-judge panel on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (one President Clinton appointee and two President Obama appointees) vacated the U.S. Forest Service right-of-way, citing the Lorax in their decisions, “someone needs to speak for the trees because the trees can’t speak for themselves.”

The purpose of the brief is to explain to the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress intended the U.S. Forest Service to have authority to grant rights-of-way over the Appalachian Trail when the trail crosses a National Forest. Congress granted heads of agencies with jurisdiction over federal lands the authority to grant rights-of-way for pipelines over those lands (30 U.S.C. § 185(a)). The ACP was set to cross over the Appalachian Trial in the George Washington National Forest. There has been no legislation transferring the jurisdiction of the federal lands over which the trail passed. Therefore, the U.S. Forest Service, which administers the George Washington National Forest, is the appropriate agency to grant a right-of-way for the ACP.

The brief further expresses the sense that Congress supports domestic energy production, including pipelines like the ACP. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision is a prime example of judicial activism and unsound environmental extremists killing energy products. The decision creates an energy reliability issue for the entire region, the potential for courts to stop pipeline operations, and legal uncertainty for the construction of new pipelines moving forward. The ACP would carry as much as 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus shale in West Virginia to customers, saving them $377 million per year. Fifty-six pipelines already cross the trail.

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