Supreme Court Overrules Previous Court Decision, Approves Permit For Atlantic Coast Pipeline

From The Daily Caller

Varun Hukeri Reporter June 15, 2020 2:51 PM ET

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a proposed natural gas pipeline which would be built under the Appalachian Trail, would be reinstated.

In a 7 to 2 decision, the justices tossed out a decision from a lower court and ruled that the U.S. Forest Service can grant rights-of-way for developers in land within national forests, the Associated Press reported. Energy companies and the Trump administration supported reinstating the permit, while environmental groups opposed it.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would run underground for 600 miles and pass through federal land, is a joint venture financed by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. Supporters of the pipeline argue that the project would revitalize economic development in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina by creating new jobs and cutting energy costs.

The pipeline’s construction has already created 17,000 new jobs and $2.7 billion in economic activity, and is projected to generate $28 million in property tax revenue annually, according to the project’s website. The United States is one the world’s largest producers and consumers of natural gas, and advocates say it is a cleaner energy source and an important economic asset.

The pipeline has been challenged in the courts since its inception in 2014. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have argued that building energy projects through national parks would “scar pristine landscapes, put numerous rivers and streams at risk of increased sedimentation and harm sensitive species.”

Others have argued that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit requests do not meet environmental review standards, citing inadequacies in the project’s environmental impact statement to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revoked the permit earlier this year, ruling that only Congress could authorize rights-of-way for pipelines on federal land. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey had strongly urged the Supreme Court to take up the case, the Associated Press reported.

“The appeal court’s decision has devastating effects for West Virginia,” Morrisey said. (RELATED: Rev. Jesse Jackson Bucks Environmentalists, Pushes Natural Gas Pipeline As Black Neighborhoods Struggle With Sky High Energy Prices)

The lower court’s decision, however, cited a law from 1920, which the Supreme Court did not uphold in its decision Monday. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said the “Forest Service had the authority to issue the permit here.” Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were the two dissenting voices.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented various environmental groups during legal proceedings at both the appeals court and the Supreme Court, said they were disappointed with the outcome. However, the group said it was confident that the pipeline “is not a viable project” in a statement released Monday.

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Jamie Moodie
June 15, 2020 6:14 pm

Finally common sense and a reprieve for the poorer who will benefit from cheaper energy as will industry, jobs and communities.

Reply to  Jamie Moodie
June 16, 2020 1:47 am

What have the poor got to do with anything?

Jamie Moodie
Reply to  Jones
June 16, 2020 2:02 am

The poor are the most effected by energy prices hiked by global warming alarmism and by reductions in their home energy prices once cheap gas is available.

Reply to  Jamie Moodie
June 16, 2020 2:40 am

Please forgive, I agree, I was being cynical.

Jamie Moodie
Reply to  Jones
June 16, 2020 2:53 am

Forgiven ha ha, I did think you were serious at the time 🙂

It’s a great step against the anti fracking lunatics et al that think of nothing but their protected lives and stuff the less well off in our countries and farther afield.

Reply to  Jones
June 16, 2020 2:59 am

Yes. English humour is frequently lost to the American ear. No problems old chap.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Jones
June 16, 2020 8:31 am

You have to tag it: /sarc

Reply to  Jamie Moodie
June 16, 2020 8:59 am

“Jones June 16, 2020 at 2:59 am
Yes. English humour is frequently lost to the American ear. No problems old chap.”

It isn’t humor, let alone English humor.

It is a very small group insider comments that utterly fail to convey speaker/writer’s sarcasm by sheer obtuseness.
Sarcasm that is entirely lost to everyone not closely linked to the speaker/author’s limited group.
Phrased simply, most of the world fails to understand insider alleged sarcasm.

Reply to  ATheoK
June 16, 2020 7:34 pm

Gosh I admire you.

Jamie Moodie
Reply to  brians356
June 16, 2020 8:26 pm

I wasn’t offended cup cakes, calm down and keep your eye on the ball. The global warming lunatics and the dreadful damage they are causing.

Wight Mann
June 15, 2020 6:19 pm

I’ve hiked/backpacked over 800 miles of the AT. There are already lots of power and gas crossings. Stop making a big deal out of this.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Wight Mann
June 15, 2020 8:56 pm

The pipeline is not the target. The natural gas that will move through it to supply industry and thus middle class affluence via good jobs and affordable energy is the real target.

Affordable and reliable fossil fuel energy is kryptonite to the Climate Scam/Renewable energy hustle.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 15, 2020 9:30 pm

Good comment.
I would like to add that underground gas pipeline have less impact on the environment than overhead power lines used to transmit wind and solar electricity.

Brian Johnston
Reply to  Waza
June 16, 2020 1:35 am

Waza, wind turbines are asynchronous and do nor produce the legally required 50/60Hz energy which is essential for our homes and industry. They are useless.
They do produce useless harmonics which through smart meters are fraudulently added to consumers power accounts hence the reason for many high power bills.
They should all be shut down.
PV solar not much better, not synchronous, not scalable. One or two OK on your roof to assist with heating ones water cylinder. Not suitable for powering an industrial economy. A dead loss.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Brian Johnston
June 16, 2020 10:40 am

I have subscribed to a group called Clear Air Ontario to see what they are doing. I looked at their funding: it is 75% individual donations and 25% wind turbine vendors. Essentially they oppose all pipelines and natural gas entering Ontario, hate nuclear, hate coal, all the while advocating big windmills and the fanciful notion of using pumped water storage in Quebec to compensate for the obvious unreliability of wind power. They like hydro but are against increasing the size of the Niagara Falls pumped storage system. You’d think Lake Erie was big enough to accommodate a little more of that.

So the battle is indeed against gas per se, not against harming “the environment”.

“Environmental groups” shilling for Big Wind is hardly news, but of course to prevent people getting low energy prices for heating and cooking requires taking down the opposition “by any means necessary”.

Fredric D Ohr
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 21, 2020 11:16 am

Spot on old chap!

Clay Sanborn
Reply to  Wight Mann
June 15, 2020 9:22 pm

Yeah, and those gas and power runs always have some good blackberries along their edge for the hiker to snack.

michael hart
Reply to  Clay Sanborn
June 16, 2020 4:53 am

The best bilberries and (micro) strawberries I ever ate were those half way up a cliff face where sheep can’t access what rock climbers can.

June 15, 2020 6:34 pm

No problem with pipelines but…… “ The pipeline’s construction has already created 17,000 new jobs and $2.7 billion in economic activity“… total Bu11sh1t….that would make it one of the most ineffective and costly pipeline engineering a procurement projects of all time…and it isn’t in construction yet.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 15, 2020 7:27 pm

They are talking about the impact of the natural gas the pipeline is delivering to the areas it has reached so far. Not about building the pipeline itself.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  MarkW
June 16, 2020 4:38 am

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were the two dissenting voices.

A prime example of ….. “females will more likely make emotional decisions that only affect a few, …… rather than logical decisions that affect the many”.

Sotomayor and Kagan “felt sorry” for the Sierra Club and its 1,000 or so supporters …… and said “sc..w you” to the millions that would benefit from said NG pipeline.

Females elected to Congress, governors, mayors and council members are often more of a liability than an asset to “government for all the people”.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 16, 2020 10:34 am

This must be a first for Ginsberg … first time her vote wasn’t an echo of a DNC platform or policy.

Douglas Lampert
Reply to  DonM
June 16, 2020 1:26 pm

The court has a non-negligible number of 9-0 decisions, many of which are on the “conservative” side if you are inclined to think of everything on a left-right axis (and some of which are “liberal” if you see things the same way).

There is no USSC justice whose votes are purely political. Some come closer than I like, but they all have some standards.

Reply to  DonM
June 16, 2020 2:35 pm

How many of those 9-0 decisions are on big issues of political importance?

Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 15, 2020 7:39 pm

Appears to be from
20 stages or spreads x UPTO 850 workers per spread = 17,000 workers.
Pipeline is 42” for 600 miles so quite big project.
Spreads are not equal length, probably due to terrain.
I have been a project engineer on gas pipeline projects 12”, 16”, and 24”, so not as big, but our crews were never bigger than 150 workers.
Also, the longer easy spreads would use same crew.
So, I also call bs on 17,000 jobs.

Reply to  Waza
June 16, 2020 6:11 am

That’s 16,000 lawyers and 1,000 actual people building the pipeline.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Waza
June 17, 2020 4:09 am

Waza, ….. I think you forgot to count the 1,000s of “support” people required to help build that pipeline.

Did your 150 workers produce their own pipe, machinery, fuel, etc., and haul it to the jobsite themselves?

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 18, 2020 7:24 am

Yes, don’t forget the support people involved as it is quite important. From the worker who produced the pipe to the coffee shop where trades are stopping for their morning cup before heading to the job site. Activity from A to Z can be counted, my only gripe is they don’t separate temporary jobs from permanent. Of course that’s for a reason just like every other number we see.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 15, 2020 8:28 pm

With canadian pipelines those numbers are pretty accurate once you figure in the endless legal challenges, all those lawyers and judges and activists generating thousands of person years of employment.
Of course nothing gets built and everyone loses.
Except the lawyers

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
June 15, 2020 10:25 pm

Original cost estimate (bit over 2 years ago): $5.1 billion.

Cost estimate (right now): $8.0 billion.

We need “Loser Pays.”

Bob Hunter
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
June 16, 2020 11:33 am

Hopefully Montana Federal Court Judge, Brian Morris, is paying attention. Morris whose prior pipeline rulings have been overturned by higher courts, continues to agree with every nebulous point the Sierra Club et al make, thereby delaying pipeline construction.

Joel O'Bryan
June 15, 2020 8:03 pm

” However, the group said it was confident that the pipeline “is not a viable project” in a statement released Monday.

They are channeling their Baghdad Bob. If they say it enough it’ll be true somehow (maybe on MSNBC and CNN and LaLa land).

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2020 1:30 am

No doubt the Southern Environmental Law Center knows far better than the engineers and investors behind the project.

Reply to  Graemethecat
June 16, 2020 8:07 am

Ask them, and they will declare that without a doubt, they do.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2020 8:06 am

If it’s not a viable project, then people who are spending their own money won’t build it.
Only government spends money on projects that they know aren’t viable.

This is yet another case of liberals assuming that as academics, they know more about a subject than the people who spend their lives working with the subject.

June 15, 2020 8:15 pm

How long has this project been in the “pipeline”? I would say it’s about time to get it started.


Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Jon P Peterson
June 15, 2020 8:29 pm

This project is “new” compared to KXL

Reply to  Jon P Peterson
June 16, 2020 8:08 am

We have a pipeline in the pipeline?

J Mac
June 15, 2020 10:04 pm

Git ‘er Done!

June 16, 2020 2:07 am

I lived in the area of Virginia affected by the pipeline for over 30 years. Given a choice between a buried pipeline and huge overhead power line rights-of-way, I’ll take the buried pipeline every time! Those charming No Pipeline signs stuck up all over Nelson and Albemarle Counties won’t be missed either, yet another blight on the landscape by environmentalists.

Charlottesville, VA, is a hotbed of environmental nutters. The area is a major eyesore of untrammeled development along the Route 29 corridor north to I-66. I remember when the Virginia Piedmont and Blue Ridge foothills were still rural land, farms and woodland. Now Charlottesville is surrounded by an ever-expanding blight of MacMansion housing developments and shopping malls. Soon there will be hundreds of wind turbines and “solar farms” thanks to Newsome’s Climate Change mitigation.

How dare these clowns rail against a pipeline that will be essentially invisible when finished and provide economic benefits to the area but welcome giant wind turbines and acres of PVC panels. Their priorities are seriously skewed!

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Pameladragon
June 16, 2020 7:48 am

Now Charlottesville is surrounded by an ever-expanding blight of MacMansion housing developments and shopping malls

No surprises there considering the fact that the above said “blight” is being financed by the exuberant tuition fees being charged by the University of Virginia.

A strange tradeoff: university employees working less hours, for higher salaries & entitlements and grand living conditions, ….. while university students are forced to pay bloated tuition fees for a Diploma of their choice that was basically sold to them at graduation by the Administrators.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 17, 2020 8:56 pm

University of Virginia president James E. Ryan total compensation year 2018-2019 was $962,875. The university has ten employees making over $500K a year.

mark from the midwest
June 16, 2020 4:14 am

Surprised that Kagan dissented. When I saw 7-2 thought it would be Ginsburg and Sotomayer. Like to see what she has to say in writing, but if anyone can give me the Cliffs Notes version here I would appreciate it.

Rud Istvan
June 16, 2020 7:22 am

Justice Thomas had an easy time of it. I read the slip opinion. The narrow question was whether the national park service (who manages the AT) or the national forest service (who manages the national forest thru which the AT runs) had the right to issue the pipeline permit (or both). Where the pipeline crosses the AT, it will enter a mountainside 1/2 mile before the AT, and exit 1/2 mile after the AT on the other side of the mountain. They will bore a ~1 mile tunnel thru the mountain to contain the pipeline there. The AT was never to be even visually affected, it will,sit several hundred feet over the pipeline.
Just more anti fossil fuel ‘Environmental’ nonsense.

June 16, 2020 8:18 am

The irony is that without gas pipelines you cannot have windmills or solar panels.

Without the NG load following generating stations, wind and solar are unworkable.

Unfortunately, because wind, solar, and NG are idle for large portions of time, the ratepayers are saddled with high capital costs as compared to useable power generated.

June 16, 2020 1:18 pm

Comparing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline map to the Appalachian Trail map, this is classic environmental alarmist hype. The two intersect each other only in Virginia ONCE.

The hype appears to be “ZOMG!!! The pipeline will be directly under 600-miles of the scenic Appalachian Trail that will have to be torn up for many years!!!”

See for yourselves how ridiculous this is:
(a) Atlantic Coast Pipeline map …
(b) Appalachian Trail map …

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