Morrisey urges court to reconsider shutdown of pipeline


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is leading a 16-state alliance urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review, and ultimately overturn, a ruling that halted construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a decision that could unnecessarily block pipeline construction and impede economic growth nationwide.

The coalition’s brief, filed Monday, argues a federal appeals court was inaccurate in ruling the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant the Atlantic Coast Pipeline rights-of-way through forestland beneath the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

”The court’s decision was completely wrong,” Morrisey said. “This decision, if it holds, will stand in the way of economic diversification, education and public safety. Continued delays negatively impact the livelihoods of our working class families and the services they receive.”

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will transport natural gas through Harrison, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph and Pocahontas counties en route to Virginia and North Carolina.

A halt to pipeline construction will cost West Virginia jobs and lost revenue from income and property taxes. County officials suggest these monies would make a difference in law enforcement activities and future economic development.

“The tax revenue generated from this project is essential,” said Cindy Whetsell, director of the Lewis County Economic Development Authority. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s benefits are enormous. Lewis County, the State of West Virginia and the United States need this project for overall stability and prosperity.”

Pipeline supporters note the loss of business for restaurants, hotels and others that benefit from the increased activity brought with pipeline construction. They also point to families left essentially broken when the head of the household must work out of state to replace jobs lost on the stalled pipeline.

“It is crucial that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline be given permission to move forward with construction,” said Robert Morris Jr., executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority. “Many of our local businesses have been banking on the construction activity bringing new and expanded revenue to them. Many of our citizens were also counting on the jobs that either directly or indirectly were created by the ACP.”

The attorneys general argue, if left intact, the ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would transform 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail into a near-impenetrable barrier to energy development – all due to a one-tenth of mile crossing on a 600-mile pipeline.

If applied nationwide, the coalition argues the appeals court decision would seal off more than 11,000 miles of federal trails from development and potentially disrupt the national power grid because of the chilling effect it could have on infrastructure investment.

Other states joining the West Virginia-led brief are Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

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Submitted by the office of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.