Today, the National Parks Conservation Association joined the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks and prominent park advocates Jon Jarvis, former director of the National Park Service, and Pam Underhill, former Superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, in filing a joint amicus brief supporting conservation respondents in U.S. Forest Service, et al. v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al. All amici curiae listed above are represented by counsel from Eubanks & Associates, LLC.
Dominion Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cut through federal lands within the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway, in a clear violation of the Mineral Leasing Act and other long-standing laws that protect our national parks from irresponsible development. This proposed pipeline is part of a recent pattern of improperly sited and inadequately studied oil and gas development projects on park sites and neighboring lands. NPCA and partners remain committed to fighting irresponsible development on our public lands, all the way to the Supreme Court.
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association:
“Dominion Energy’s latest reckless proposal is a massive pipeline through a much-beloved national park site. If allowed, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would set a dangerous precedent by enabling corporations to irresponsibly develop public lands that belong to all of us.
“The law is clear – developers cannot slice through federal lands in national park sites without explicit approval from Congress. In fact, the law was specifically written to protect parks from this kind of activity, and developers do not get to circumvent the law to serve their own needs. That’s not what parks are for.
“Millions of hikers across 14 states take to the Appalachian Trail each year, immersing themselves in some of the most beautiful and biodiverse wilderness in the nation. Running a pipeline through the land in question puts this one-of-a-kind visitor experience, as well as clean air, clean water, and unique wildlife habitat along the trail, at risk. Pipelines don’t belong in our parks.”
Statement by Phil Francis, Chair of Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks and former Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway:
“During my years of service as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, nothing was more important to me than preserving America’s favorite scenic drive. That’s part of the job – a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of protection for our beloved parks and ensuring a quality visitor experience.
“Dominion Energy’s proposed path for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline jeopardizes that protection and years of hard work by Parkway superintendents over the past 50 years. Granting this mammoth energy project a permit to cross federal lands at one of the most visited units of the National Park Service without Congressional oversight and without serious consideration of other alternatives would be unprecedented, and is specifically prohibited by federal laws such as the Mineral Leasing Act.
“Park service staff are duty-bound to serve as good stewards for our public lands, which belong to the people. Forcing a giant pipeline through those lands does not just present park staff with an undue burden to work around – it’s antithetical to the whole reason this land was protected in the first place.”
Statement by Jon Jarvis, former Director of the National Park Service:
“The Appalachian Trail is a jewel in our National Park System, offering hikers over 2,000 miles of scenic vistas and stunning landscapes. Millions of visitors each year seek out the peace and tranquility along this wild and undeveloped trail and hundreds of thousands of volunteers give their time to maintain the footpath. The idea that a massive corporation could run a pipeline across this trail and carve up such a beautiful and unspoiled landscape is appalling. Other options for their pipeline were available.
“In addition to negatively affecting the trail experience for visitors and damaging natural habitats, allowing Dominion Energy’s pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail would establish a dangerous precedent and put other national parks at risk from corporate development. Pipelines do not belong in units of the national park system. That is not only my view as former director of the National Park Service, but absent explicit approval from Congress, it is also prohibited by law.”
Statement by Pam Underhill, former Superintendent of the Appalachian Trail:
“It was my honor to work for the National Park Service for more than thirty years, nearly twenty as Superintendent, on the protection, management and administration of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. In countless talks and venues during those years, I often and proudly referred to the Appalachian Trail as the ‘longest, skinniest unit’ of our world-renowned national park system. As such, the Trail is uniquely vulnerable to intrusions that could over time inexorably ‘nickel and dime’ it to death, destroying its integrity and natural beauty.
“Constant vigilance will be required on the part of Trail enthusiasts and managers to have a shot at securing the Trail’s long-term protection, even with its elevated standing as a unit of our national park system. Adherence to existing federal protections is essential.”