UPDATE: ACP issues statement in response to federal court ruling

Keystone XL Pipeline / (MGN)

RICHMOND, Va. (WDTV/AP) -- UPDATE 12/13/18
Atlantic Coast Pipeline Spokesperson Aaron Ruby has issued a statement in regards to the ruling. You can read the statement below.

We strongly disagree with the court’s ruling. The court’s decision is at odds with the consensus of the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. All of these agencies agree that the Forest Service has the full legal authority to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s crossing of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, for decades 56 other oil and gas pipelines have operated across the AT. This opinion brings into question whether or not these existing pipelines can remain in place.

With this decision, the Fourth Circuit has now undermined the judgment of the dedicated, career professionals at nearly every federal agency that has reviewed this project.

We are immediately appealing the court’s decision to the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. If allowed to stand, this decision will severely harm consumers and do great damage to our economy and energy security. Public utilities are depending on this infrastructure to meet the basic energy needs of millions of people and businesses in our region.

We are confident we will prevail on appeal. Opponents’ tactics in the courts are not doing anything to provide additional protection of the environment. They are only driving up consumer energy costs, delaying access to cleaner energy and making it harder for public utilities to reliably serve consumers and businesses.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been the most thoroughly reviewed infrastructure project in the history of our region. No other project in our region’s history has been developed with greater attention to the environment, including the national forests and the Appalachian Trail.

A federal appeals court has invalidated a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Thursday that the U.S. Forest Service "abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources" when it approved the pipeline crossing the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, and a right of way across the Appalachian Trail.

The ruling quoted "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss, saying the Forest Service is trusted to "speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues."

A Dominion Energy spokesman said the company is reviewing the ruling and had no immediate comment.

The natural gas pipeline would run through parts of West Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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12/13/2018 1:21:23 PM (GMT -5:00)