DEC 17, 2018 6:00 AM PST

Federal court "speaks for the trees"

A federal appeals court has called in the Lorax, the grumpy little creature famous in Dr. Seuss’s book for acting as a guardian for the trees. In a recent decision filed by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, a three-judge panel stripped Dominion Energy’s permit to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline across two national forests and the Appalachian Trail. The permit was originally granted by the U.S. Forest Service.

The appeals court declared that in issuing the permit for the pipeline’s construction, the U.S. Forest Service "abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources". The panel further commented that “We trust the United States Forest Service to 'speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.'" This decision on the part of the forest service did not act in the interest of the trees.

The pipeline, starting in West Virginia and continuing across Virginia and North Carolina, would pass through parts of the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests as well as the Appalachian Trail. The judges elaborated on the impacts that such construction would have on habitats: "Construction would involve clearing trees and other vegetation from a 125-foot right of way (reduced to 75 feet in wetlands) through the national forests, digging a trench to bury the pipeline, and blasting and flattening ridgelines in mountainous terrains. Following construction, the project requires maintaining a 50-foot right of way (reduced to 30 feet in wetlands) through the [two national forests] for the life of the pipeline."

There are also the concerns of how landslides in the area would affect a natural gas pipeline. Using the example of the Columbia Gas Transmission Pipeline, which burst this July after a landslide in West Virginia and exposed fragile Appalachian ecosystems, the court decided that the Forest Service conducted 'insufficient analysis of landslide risks'.

From Dr. Seuss's famous book, the Lorax, who speaks for the trees. Photo: One Green Planet

The judges unanimously concluded that the U.S. Forest Service’s granting of the permit to Dominion Energy for the pipeline “violated both the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and found the Forest Service lacked the authority to grant the pipeline a right of way across the Appalachian Trail,” writes NPR. "This conclusion is particularly informed by the Forest Service's serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company's deadlines," wrote the judges.

Dominion Energy has said it will appeal immediately to the full appeals court.

Sources: NPR, Richmond Times-Dispatch

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 22, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Fire Season in the Far North? The Wildfires of Siberia
AUG 22, 2021
Fire Season in the Far North? The Wildfires of Siberia
Fires have spread across over 10 million acres in Siberia
SEP 07, 2021
Plants & Animals
All dogs may be descended from the same 23,000-year-old Siberian ancestor
SEP 07, 2021
All dogs may be descended from the same 23,000-year-old Siberian ancestor
New research suggests that all modern dogs are descended from the same 23,000-year-old Siberian ancestor
SEP 15, 2021
Plants & Animals
Using Food Waste To Make Rechargeable Batteries
SEP 15, 2021
Using Food Waste To Make Rechargeable Batteries
Back in 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that nearly 133 billion pounds of food went to waste, ...
OCT 08, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Evidence of human activity 400,000 years ago in Saudi Arabia
OCT 08, 2021
Evidence of human activity 400,000 years ago in Saudi Arabia
Incredible new evidence pushed back Asia's earliest contact with hominins
OCT 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
Temperature Perception Seems to be Different in Males & Females
OCT 10, 2021
Temperature Perception Seems to be Different in Males & Females
It's not unusual for people in workplaces and at home to have different temperature preferences. There may be biological ...
OCT 18, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
New Climatic Data from China Sheds Light on the Emergence of the Dinosaurs
OCT 18, 2021
New Climatic Data from China Sheds Light on the Emergence of the Dinosaurs
The climate is hot and muggy with the world's oceans as hot as a sauna. Also, it just started raining and it will not st ...
Loading Comments...