Environmental groups ask court to review pipeline approval
By DENISE LAVOIE, AP Legal Affairs Writer
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups asked a federal appeals court on Thursday to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates petitioned the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of 13 conservation and environmental groups.
The move comes after the 4th Circuit last week vacated two key permits issued for the project by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Parks Service. Days after the ruling, FERC ordered a halt to construction of the 600-mile (965-kilometer) natural gas pipeline, but also denied a rehearing request from the environmental groups to reconsider its 2017 approval of the pipeline.
Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Greg Buppert said in a statement that the groups believe that FERC “rushed through its decision to permit a pipeline that we don’t need.”
“It’s clear that even within FERC there are questions about the need for this pipeline and the unnecessary harm it will cause to the surrounding communities, the environment, and the customers in Virginia and North Carolina that will bear the financial burden,” Buppert said.
The pipeline’s lead developer, Dominion Energy, cited FERC’s ruling last week upholding its 2017 decision that “the project is needed and in the public interest.”
“The end use of this gas is well established on the public record and is a matter of urgent public necessity,” Dominion said in a statement.
Dominion said last week that it believes the concerns cited by the 4th Circuit when it vacated two permits “can be promptly addressed through additional review by the agencies without causing unnecessary delay to the project.”
The pipeline is planned to start in West Virginia and run through parts of Virginia and North Carolina.
FERC declined to comment on the petition filed Thursday by the environmental groups asking the appeals court to review its approval of the pipeline. A spokeswoman said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.