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Feb. 26, 2020 by Noah Sachs

Argument Analysis: The Trail, the Pipeline, and a Journey to the Center of the Earth

This post was originally published on SCOTUSblog. It is republished here under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US).

Environmental groups faced a skeptical bench during Monday's argument in two consolidated cases, U.S. Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association and Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, as they fought to preserve a 2018 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that had halted an $8 billion, 600-mile natural gas pipeline. At the heart of the dispute is a 2017 permit granted by the U.S. Forest Service to allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the George Washington National Forest. The permit also authorized the developers to tunnel 600 feet beneath the Appalachian Trail within the forest. Vacating the permit, the 4th Circuit held that the entire 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail is part of the National Park System and therefore, under the Mineral Leasing Act, the trail is off-limits for energy development and pipeline rights-of-way.

At oral argument, a majority of justices appeared inclined to reverse the 4th Circuit. There was no clear consensus on the grounds for reversal, however, and we could see several opinions released this …

Feb. 19, 2020 by Noah Sachs
AppalachianTrail_wide.jpg

This post was originally published on SCOTUSblog. It is republished here under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US).

On Monday, February 24, the Supreme Court will hear argument in U.S. Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association and Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association. These consolidated cases pit a pipeline developer and the U.S. Forest Service against environmental groups that want to halt the pipeline's construction and protect the Appalachian Trail.

The court will have to construe several statutes, including the Mineral Leasing Act, which promotes pipeline rights-of-way and other energy development on federal lands (except lands in the National Park System), and the National Trails System Act, which designated the Appalachian Trail as a National Scenic Trail and put the Secretary of the Interior in charge of administering it. The secretary later delegated that authority to the National …

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Feb. 26, 2020

Argument Analysis: The Trail, the Pipeline, and a Journey to the Center of the Earth

Feb. 19, 2020

Argument Preview: Justices to Consider Whether the Appalachian Trail Blocks Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline