WASHINGTON — After the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he is optimistic about the ruling being favorable.
“This is the kind of stuff that matters for revenue and for allowing West Virginia to really reach her potential from an economic perspective,” Morrisey said on the Feb. 24 edition of MetroNews’ “Talkline” radio program with host Hoppy Kercheval.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a 605-mile gas line going West Virginia to North Carolina. Morrisey leads an 18-state coalition in arguing a federal appeals court was inaccurate in ruling the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant the rights-of-way through forestland beneath the Appalachian Trail, which is controlled by the National Park Service.
Bloomberg News reported that it seemed most justices supporting allowing work to resume on the pipeline, believing the Forest Service did have power to issue the construction permit.
On Feb. 20, Morrisey joined state leaders, business operators and union laborers to stress what he calls is an "urgent need" for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 4th Circuit ruling.
“The appeals court decision put thousands of men and women out of work,” Morrisey said at that press conference. “Our broad coalition and state leaders are unified in hoping the Supreme Court will overturn that devastating decision.
"A sound court ruling will lead to a stronger economy, more residents gainfully employed and more tax revenue for our communities.”
If completed, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would transport natural gas through Harrison, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph and Pocahontas counties to Virginia and North Carolina.
Morrisey's office says the halting of pipeline construction has cost the state at least 1,500 jobs and lost revenue from income and property taxes. The jobs in question paid laborers between $25 to $40 per hour plus per diem.
Morrisey says the 4th Circuit's ruling, if left unchanged, would transform 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail into "a near-impenetrable barrier to energy development all to avoid a one-tenth mile crossing deep beneath the surface on a 600-mile pipeline."
He also says the ruling, if applied nationwide, 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."
U.S. Supreme Court case numbers 18-1584 and 18-1587