- The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear the appeal of a case that denied the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permission to cross the Appalachian Trail.
- Construction on the ACP is on hold, while work continues on the MVP.
The court didn’t just reject U.S. Forest Service permits for the ACP to cross the Appalachian Trail: they ruled the Forest Service lacks the authority to permit any pipeline crossing the A.T. without an act of Congress. If that stands, it invites a fresh challenge to the MVP project, which is also attempting to transport gas from Appalachia to the Southeast US.
The ACP’s lead developer and 48 percent owner Dominion Energy (D) will file an appeal with the US Supreme Court “in the next 90 days.” If that fails, management will have to decide whether to seek an unlikely exemption from Congress, substantially re-route the pipeline, or cancel the project entirely.
Prior to its defeat at the Fourth Circuit, Dominion had announced a plan to separately construct the “Supply Header” portion of the ACP, a pipeline system stretching from central to southeastern Virginia and then to southeastern North Carolina. That portion now has a projected commercial in-service date of end-year 2020 at a cost of $650 to $700 million and could conceivably be filled with gas from other sources
In an email, Aaron Ruby with Dominion Energy wrote that the company “remains committed to completing the project, and we’re confident we will. In spite of the delays, the project remains very important to our region’s economy and the environment.” If the U.S. Supreme court agrees to hear the case asking for a reversal on the prohibition to cross the Appalachian Trail, no decision would be made until next year.
To keep up on pipeline related news, check the Submar blog regularly, where we’ll keep you up to date.