ACP attempting to "circumvent legislative due process?"

A potential “end run” coming from the those wanting to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline at the mountain entrance of Wintergreen would “circumvent legislative due process regarding private companies using our national forests for their gain,” according to a July 23rd letter to property owners in the resort community from the board of directors of the Wintergreen Property Owners Association.

“Dominion is facing resistance on several fronts and is pushing back,” WPOA’s letter explains. WPOA is asking its members to contact their elected representatives, pointing to three recent developments.

From the letter:

  1. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision invalidating the US Forest Service’s grant of easement for the ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and National Scenic Trail (Appalachian Trail) at Wintergreen is preventing any further work in our area. This case was brought by the Southern Environmental Legal Center (SELC) and others. However, Dominion and other industry representatives are attempting to circumvent this by lobbying Congress to insert a “rider” on other legislation to allow the USFS to grant such authorization outside of the normal legislative process.

  2. Dominion is attempting to appeal the above 4th Circuit Court opinion to the Supreme Court. It has support from the US Solicitor General. SELC and others are following this development closely.

  3. Dominion has petitioned in US District Court in the District of Columbia against WPOA, Fairway Woods and Friends of Wintergreen (FOW)’s lawsuit against FERC’s decision to grant ACP a Certificate of Necessity. The Certificate is the basis for Dominion’s authorization to proceed with the ACP project. Our suit was brought against FERC under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to correct their “arbitrary and capricious” decision which ignored the environmental and safety impacts cited by the parties. We expect oral arguments in September.

“Whether you agree or disagree with Dominion’s actions, as affected property owners, we want you to be aware of ongoing events on this subject and to take action where you feel it appropriate,” WPOA’s letter concludes.

More: The Southern Environmental Law Center’s two-page summary on the ACP

WPOA’s July 23rd letter  points to a new page on the Friends of Wintergreen website which says , “Dominion Energy and its industry representatives may be trying to sneak in a last-minute amendment to a must-pass bill that would permit the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway near Wintergreen and Reed's Gap. This would be a back-door attempt to circumvent the decision made by the federal court to bar the pipeline from federal lands.”  “If you are upset about this possible legislative ‘sleight of hand,’  email your Congressional Representative and Senators . And ask your friends to join in, too.  “Tell them you oppose any last minute amendments, especially one that would allow gas pipelines to cross our national forest, the Appalachian Trail, and Wintergreen's only exit and entrance.  “Decisions of this magnitude should not be made through sneaky legislative tactics designed to avoid proper debate and deliberation. There's too much at stake for our community and our region.  “The critical budget vote may take place in just a few days.”

WPOA’s July 23rd letter points to a new page on the Friends of Wintergreen website which says, “Dominion Energy and its industry representatives may be trying to sneak in a last-minute amendment to a must-pass bill that would permit the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway near Wintergreen and Reed's Gap. This would be a back-door attempt to circumvent the decision made by the federal court to bar the pipeline from federal lands.”

“If you are upset about this possible legislative ‘sleight of hand,’ email your Congressional Representative and Senators. And ask your friends to join in, too.

“Tell them you oppose any last minute amendments, especially one that would allow gas pipelines to cross our national forest, the Appalachian Trail, and Wintergreen's only exit and entrance.

“Decisions of this magnitude should not be made through sneaky legislative tactics designed to avoid proper debate and deliberation. There's too much at stake for our community and our region.

“The critical budget vote may take place in just a few days.”

Unrelated to the WPOA letter, the Associated Press reported on July 26 that a federal court "tossed out a key permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that deals with the project’s effects on threatened or endangered species, saying a federal agency apparently had “lost sight of its mandate.” Read more

The text of the letter Friends of Wintergreen is suggesting property owners within Wintergreen send to US Senators and House members:

As one of your constituents, I am also a property owner at Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County, Virginia and a member of the Wintergreen Property Owners Association (WPOA). WPOA owns much of the common area surrounding Wintergreen Resort.

Dominion Energy wants to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on a path that would traverse the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail at Reid’s Gap. This massive natural gas pipeline would then cross the only entrance and exit to Wintergreen, a vibrant community with more than 3,000 residences and 300,000 annual visitors.

WPOA and others have opposed this current path of the Pipeline due to safety hazards associated with the Pipeline if it is built on this path. In addition, WPOA has challenged the current path of the Pipeline because there are reasonable route alternatives that are environmentally superior to Dominion’s proposal.

Fortunately, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that under current Federal statutes there is no legal authority for the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service to grant a permit for the Pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail on Federal land at Reid’s Gap.

BUT we now have learned that Dominion and its industry representatives want to circumvent the Fourth Circuit decision by quietly inserting an amendment or rider into some major, must-pass bill at the last minute.

I respectfully request that you stay alert for these back-door tricks and do everything you can to defeat them, including working with your Congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle. This Congressional end-run around the court’s decision would be wrong, and it must be stopped.

Thank you for your support.