Much of the discussion yesterday focused on the historic ruling in favor of workplace protections for LGBT workers. Lost in the coverage was another case where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of another horrendous policy of the Trump Administration on the environment. I have been a long and vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s record on the environment and the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline us the latest rollback on Obama era protections. The Court voted 7-2 decision in favor of the $5.1 billion pipeline project across one of our most cherished and most used natural areas: the Appalachian Trail.
My objections is more to the policy than the ruling. Under President Barack Obama, the government asked regulators to pursue alternate routes for the pipeline that would not cross this pristine area. That was one of the many environmental policies that Trump reversed. The decision in favor of the agencies was predicted by many of us.
In December 2018, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled with the environmental groups and vacated the Forest Service permit. The pipeline company wants to put the pipeline underground but it presents a threat to this protected areas from spills and other impacts. At issue is also a bright line rule that should bar development of this kind for private companies in federal parks.
I readily admit to being an ardent environmentalist and I have often shared photos from my many hikes on the Appalachian Trail (including the one above). It remains one of our greatest national treasures. The decision of President Trump seems almost gratuitously threatening for our national parks and dismissive of the concerns for all those of value these areas.
It is appalling that Congress has not stepped into protect the storied AT. Nevertheless, there remains challenges to be heard. Thus, if there is a Biden Administration, this policy could well be reversed again. I hope that any new Administration would move quickly to restore the Obama policy.