West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is weighing in on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
In an “amici curiae,” or friend of the court brief, Morrisey and 15 other state attorneys general asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is appealing a lower court’s ruling.
“The court’s decision was completely wrong,” Morrisey said in a prepared statement. “This decision, if it holds, will stand in the way of economic diversification, education and public safety. Continued delays negatively impact the livelihoods of our working class families and the services they receive.”
The other states represented include Alabama, Ohio and Texas — states that “have strong interests in preserving the Mineral Leasing Act’s balance between robust energy development and responsible management of public lands.”
Each state has an interest in protecting the country’s natural parks and “respect Congress’s decision to bar pipeline development in the nation’s parks,” but are also interested in exporting oil and gas, according to the brief.
At issue is whether, under the Mineral Leasing Act and National Trails System Act, the U.S. Forest Service can allow the natural gas pipeline to go under the Appalachian Trail.
The Mineral Leasing Act does allow the pipeline underneath the Appalachian Trail, and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals got it wrong when it revoked the project’s permits, the attorneys general wrote.
Plus, the amici curiae says, the Mineral Leasing Act aims to balance conservation and energy development.
In December, the 4th Circuit vacated the project’s Special Use Permit and Record of Decision, required to build the 600-mile-long pipeline through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests. The panel also said the Forest Service did not have the authority to allow construction across the Appalachian Trail.
The decision, plus the same court’s decision to stay another permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, forced a stop to the project.
Dominion Energy, the company building the project, blamed it on “rogue environmental groups.”
Atlantic Coast Pipeline filed its appeal with the Supreme Court at the end of June.
Last week, the appeals court pulled the project’s Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement from Fish and Wildlife, as well. Both are required for the pipeline to be built.