Among the amicus briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22 in support of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to vacate the U.S. Forest Service permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail (see ABRA Update #250 article on this) was one jointly filed by: John Jarvis, former Director of the U.S. Park Service; Pam Underhill, former Superintendent of the Appalachian Trail; and the National Parks Conservation Association. The Jarvis/Underhill/NPCA brief sets forth three-principal arguments:
- Federal agencies may not issue pipeline rights-of-way through federal lands in units of the National Park System, including the Appalachian Trail, without express authorization from Congress;
- There exist other well-established means of obtaining authorization for pipeline rights-of-way in or through National Park System lands; and
- Congress’s delegation to the Park Service of administrative jurisdiction over the Appalachian Trail also ensures the Trail’s long-term conservation in the manner Congress intended.
In concluding its brief, the joint petitioners stated:
While the Forest Service and its staff members are critically important partners in cooperatively managing the Appalachian Trail on Forest Service lands, Congress recognized that the Park Service was best situated to play a special role in administering the entire stretch of this unique national treasure and assuring
that its purposes are fulfilled in perpetuity. As such, it is imperative that this Court affirm the Fourth Circuit’s ruling, which will ensure that this foundational
national scenic trail continues to be overseen and conserved as a crown jewel of the National Park System, in the manner that Congress envisioned when it deliberately charged the Park Service with administering the Appalachian Trail.