B&D Files Amicus Brief for Industry Coalition in Support of Natural Gas Pipeline Access to the East Coast

On February 24, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, a case evaluating the U.S. Forest Service’s authority to grant rights-of-way under the Mineral Leasing Act of a natural gas pipeline that would traverse the Appalachian Trail 600 feet below ground. Beveridge & Diamond principals Jamie Auslander, John Cruden, and Peter Schaumberg filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers and twenty other trade associations, supporting reversal of the Fourth Circuit’s novel interpretation of two federal statutes to bar the pipeline project. (This news alert details the Court's 7-2 ruling on June 15, 2020 in our clients' favor.)

The amicus brief emphasized the significant collateral effects of the Court of Appeals’ opinion that would divest the U.S. Forest Service of jurisdiction to grant rights-of-way through Forest Service lands. The Fourth Circuit ruling would, in the words of Chief Justice Roberts during the oral argument, create an “impermeable barrier” to natural gas pipelines on the East Coast.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its opinion in the coming months. In an E&E News article, John Cruden, B&D principal and former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, predicted that the pipeline will prevail. Mr. Cruden said that Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s remarks during the argument indicate that “the majority of the court is way more likely to find the consequences are significant. They are real.”

Click here for the amicus brief and here for the docket. This case has been covered in news outlets, including Greenwire and E&E News (subscription may be required).

B&D’s nationwide Litigation practice spans federal and state trial and appellate courts across the U.S., including the U.S. Supreme Court. Clients—including Fortune 500 companies and America’s largest municipalities— entrust us with novel and complex litigation matters vital to their continuing operation and success. Backed by the firm’s environmental regulatory lawyers, our litigators first-chair major national litigation and serve as coordinating counsel in high-stakes cases affecting entire industries.