The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by Dominion Energy Inc of a lower court ruling that halted construction on a $7.5 billion natural gas pipeline due to run underneath a section of the Appalachian Trail in rural Virginia. A lower court ruling recently found that the U.S. Forest Service lacked the authority to grant a right of way for the pipeline. Environmental groups had sued to stop the pipeline after the Forest Service gave the green light for the project through protected National Park Service land. The December 2018 ruling by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a stop to construction of the 600-mile (965-km) Atlantic Coast Pipeline, intended to run from West Virginia to North Carolina.
Dominion Energy leads a consortium of companies in the project that also includes Duke Energy Corp.
A ruling is due by the end of the court’s new term, which starts on Monday and ends in June. The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling may also affect the proposed 300-mile (480-km) Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is intended to run from West Virginia to southern Virginia and crosses the trail in the Jefferson National Forest. After an application process involving multiple federal agencies, the Forest Service granted the consortium a right of way under the trail in January 2018, prompting environmental groups to file a lawsuit.