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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Permit For Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Cross Under the Appalachian Trail

Supreme court edifice
The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for a new pipeline, sections of which will run through Virginia. (Photo: Whittney Evans/VPM)

The U.S. Supreme Court removed a crucial obstacle for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Monday, reversing a lower court decision.

In a 7 to 2 ruling, the court concluded that the U.S. Forest Service can issue the Atlantic Coast Pipeline a permit to tunnel about 600 feet beneath the Appalachian Trail in the George Washington National Forest.

A spokesperson for the ACP said in a statement that communities in the region are depending on the pipeline for jobs, economic growth and clean energy.

“Communities across Hampton Roads, Virginia and eastern North Carolina are experiencing chronic shortages of natural gas,” said spokesperson Ann Nallo. “They urgently need new infrastructure to support military bases, manufacturing and home heating. The ACP will also support our region’s transition from coal and the rapid expansion of renewables, both of which are essential to Dominion Energy’s and Duke Energy’s plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”

But D.J. Gerken, program director for Southern Environmental Law Center, maintains the project is unnecessary.

“This pipeline is not meant to provide power to our homes or heat to our homes,” Gerken said. “They are building this pipeline because it is guaranteed revenue for their shareholders.”

The 604-mile natural gas pipeline begins in West Virginia and would cross through Virginia before ending in North Carolina.

The pipeline still needs seven more permits from state and federal regulators including the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

A permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is under review in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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