Atlantic Coast Pipeline Permit Deemed Irresponsible By Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeals

Dominion and Duke Energy requested a Fish and Wildlife permit in order to construct an Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, and the Virginia Wilderness Committee sued alongside the Southern Environmental Law Center because the requested permit would do little or nothing in order to protect potentially endangered species whose habitat is along the planned pipeline path. The permit was eventually struck down by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The pipeline had actually been in the process of being constructed when the lawsuit forced builders to stop or face additional legal action. The pipeline would be built through national forests, where wildlife and endangered habits are both protected. Its owners even wanted the project to intersect with the Appalachian Trail.

This is a major hurdle for the pipeline’s owners because it was supposed to be completed years ago — and for several billion dollars less. It is possible that permit holders will find no feasible path forward to complete construction, which remains stalled even now.

An attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, Patrick Hunter, said: “In its rush to help this pipeline company, the agency failed to protect species on the brink of extinction — its most important duty. This pipeline would blast through some of the last populations of these rare animals.”

One of the major criticisms of the pipeline is the lack of necessity at a time when the environment is under attack from all sides. The construction is only necessary to increase its owners’ revenue, which is not an acceptable reason to destroy endangered wildlife or their habitats.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has started to aggregate data into a large database to figure out how many pipeline projects are currently underway. The database includes pipelines for oil, petroleum, and hydrocarbon gas liquids. This increased rate of domestic production — at a time when worldwide productivity is on a historic decline — has resulted in a surprising demand for new projects because it threw a wrench into aging patterns of supply and demand in the Gulf.

The database will make transparent a number of statistics about these projects, including where and when they begin, their expected productivity, how many miles of pipeline will be laid, and their potential effects. In the south, at least nine new projects for crude oil are expected to be completed from 2019 to 2021. 

The EIA is expected to perform system updates for this database twice annually.