Amicus briefs in support of the appeal by the U.S. Forest Service and Atlantic Coast, LLC to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Cowpasture River, et. al. case were filed on December 9. As noted in last week’s ABRA Update, the brief for the respondents in the case, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, must be filed by January 15. Amicus briefs in support of the respondents’ position are due January 22.
Among the seven amicus briefs filed were arguments from the Attorney Generals of 18 states (led by the Attorney General of West Virginia), 62 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Also filing a brief was the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Links to the briefs filed are available by clicking here. Below are excerpts from some of the filed amicus briefs:
States Attorneys General (18 Republican AGs, filed on their behalf by the AG of WV)
“. . . have deep concerns with the decision below, which destroyed the balance Congress baked into the Mineral Leasing Act and cut off thousands of miles of federal land from development. These concerns are especially pressing because the decision does not simply question the Forest Service’s judgment or ask for a redo: It makes it impossible for any federal agency to grant any easement crossing the Appalachian Trail. In other words, without reversal one 1/10 mile crossing on a 600-mile pipeline route— a route that crosses 21 miles of national forests where rights-of-way indisputably can be granted—may stop the entire enterprise, as well as others to come.”
Members of U.S. House of Representatives (All 62 Representatives signing the brief are Republicans; most are more junior members of the House. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-SC, was the leader of the filing. The list includes all 3 House Members from West Virginia and 9 of 10 Republicans in the 13-member North Carolina delegation. No House Members from Virginia were signatories.)
“Congress has many reasons to support domestic energy production and the necessary pipelines to transport energy resources safely, easily, and efficiently. For one, domestic energy production is a national-security issue. Producing more energy resources in the United States means purchasing less energy resources from other nations whose interests may not always align with those of the United States. For a second reason, domestic energy production is booming, and there must be a way to transport the resources America is producing. A third reason: domestic energy production spurs economic growth.”
Appalachian Trail Conservancy (The ATC did not take a specific position for or against the appeal. It’s brief focused on the history and relevance of the Appalachian Trail.)
The Appalachian Trail is a unique national resource—truly the “realm united by a trail” that Benton MacKaye imagined. Regardless how the Court decides the question presented, the Conservancy urges the Court to respect the values that the Trail embodies and the carefully constructed management system—painstakingly negotiated over decades, and functioning effectively for decades since. A hallmark of that system is the local ownership that agencies, volunteer Clubs, and communities feel regarding their Trail sections. And sharing of responsibility among the partners, under the Trails Act, has been central to fostering those relationships with the Trail. Altering this system could upend the National Trails System and subvert the very values that the Trails Act was meant to protect.