Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Major Pipeline Under Appalachian Trail

In addition to crossing protected federal lands, the current proposed route (unsurprisingly) traverses many rural, low-income areas and communities of color.

Five and a half years after one of the South’s biggest natural gas companies petitioned to build a major pipeline under the Appalachian Trail, the United States Supreme Court has cleared the way for its approval –– shocking environmental activists, U.S. regulators, and notorious RGB stans across the country.

As the Grist’s Lyndsey Gilpin reports, the decision could have immense impacts on pipeline construction and opposing climate justice efforts moving forward. Unsurprisingly, the proposed pathway of the pipeline will also run through many rural, low-income areas and communities of color across the American mountain range.

The case involved, won by a 7 to 2 margin essentially reversed a lower court’s decision, upholding a permit granted by the U.S. Forest Service that gives a green light to Southern utilities provider Dominion Energy to build what may soon be known as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline—a 600-mile underground highway for natural gas transport set to begin pumping out fuel as early as 2022.

That said, whether Dominion will actually get to dig deep beneath one of the United States’ most beloved hiking trails is still far from decided. The company still has to fight environmental activists for eight more permits to secure the route, including one highly-contested permit for a potentially dangerous compressor station in Union Hill, a historically Black community fighting back hard against the infringement.

Before they build, Dominion is also required to look at other routes for their pipeline that will avoid parcels of protected federal land that run along their initial proposed route. Meanwhile, several landowners across West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina are also fighting to protect their towns and properties from the impending project––citing claims of autonomy, risk to local drinking water supplies, and other major climate justice claims in their many, many petitions.

To learn more about the impending pipeline, click the link below, or check out Gilpin’s additional reporting on the topic, which includes a poignant profile series with people who live along the AT, as well as an incredible documentary about a North Carolina community standing in its way.

Read more on The Grist.