Initial briefs in the Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et. al. v. Forest Service are due to be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by the petitioners – U.S. Forest Service and Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC – on December 2. The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing the Cowpasture River Preservation Association and the other respondents in the case, is scheduled to file its response brief on January 15, 2020. The Supreme Court had announced on October 4 it would accept the case for review. At this writing, no date has been scheduled for oral arguments in the case, but it is anticipated to occur in early 2020.
The appeal before the Court is from a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 13, 2018 to vacate the permit the U.S. Forest Service had issued for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) , which affects the project’s crossing of the Appalachian National Trail (AT). Among major points in the Fourth Circuit decision was the judgment that the Forest Service did not possess the legal right to authorize the ACP to cross the AT. Plaintiffs in the challenge to the Forest Serviced permit (and, thus, the respondents in the pending Supreme Court Appeal) are 7 members of ABRA: Cowpasture River Preservation Association; Highlanders for Responsible Development; Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation; Shenandoah Valley Network; Sierra Club; Virginia Wilderness Committee; and Wild Virginia.