Judges Knock Permit in Pipeline Controversy

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 18, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal appeals court pushed back construction of an Atlantic Coast pipeline, but that's not stopping the main contractor on the project.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said a permit for the project was inadequate to protect environmental concerns. Plaintiffs' lawyers say all work must stop, but the lead developer is pushing forward.

In the meantime, the appeals court said it will address the particulars of the construction soon. For now, the permit and the order are problems.

Pipeline Cases

The Fourth Circuit heard arguments in two pipeline cases this month. They converged the same day in the appeals court.

The full-court press seemed to press one judge the wrong way. "These challenges seem like they have no end," said Judge William Traxler.

In the Atlantic pipeline case, the plaintiffs said the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Agency did not set clear limits on the impact of construction. Acknowledging the potential effect on threatened or endangered species, the appeals court vacated its permit.

D.J. Gerken, who represents environmentalists in the case, said construction must cease because all work depends on the agency's permit. Jen Kostyniuk, a spokeswoman for Dominion Energy, said the project "will move forward with construction as scheduled."

Pipeline Order

The gas pipeline project starts in West Virginia and runs through Virginia and North Carolina. According to reports, developers say it will help the economy by creating jobs and moving industries away from coal.

On the other hand, environmentalists say the pipeline will cause sedimentation and harm ecosystems. The Sierra Club said forests will suffer "widespread erosion," changing everything for animals and trees.

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