The Atlantic Coast Pipeline Fight Could Go to the Supreme Court
The fight over the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline may be headed to the Supreme Court.
Dominion Energy, the lead developer of the project that would carry fracked natural gas for 605 miles through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, said Tuesday it would appeal to the nation's highest court after an appeals court refused to reconsider its decision to throw out a crucial permit for the project on Monday, The Associated Press reported.
Dominion and the U.S. Forest Service had asked the fourth U.S. Court of Appeals for a re-hearing of the court's December 2018 decision to toss the U.S. Forest Service permit allowing the pipeline to cross the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests as well as part of the Appalachian Trail. The court refused.
The court had ruled in December that the U.S. Forest Service did not have the authority to grant the pipeline company permission to cross the Appalachian Trail.
"The Fourth Circuit's decision, now final, confirmed that this pipeline has to play by the same rules as everybody else," Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) Senior Attorney D.J. Gerken said in a press release. "The Forest Service has never approved a new pipeline across the Appalachian Trail — but, under intense political pressure, it did for Atlantic, while ignoring routes that would avoid the forest. Atlantic could reroute, but instead it should scrap this boondoggle and stop running up a bill it wants to stick to customers."
Dominion said it would file an appeal with the Supreme Court within 90 days, The Associated Press reported. It is also seeking "legislative and administrative options" in case the Supreme Court refuses to hear its case, thought it did not specify what those might be.
Gerken speculated to The Associated Press that Dominion might ask Congress to grant the U.S. Forest Service or another body the authority to allow it to cross the trail.
Construction is now stopped along the entire route of the pipeline, and the cost of the project has gone from an estimated $4.5 to 5 billion when first announced to $7 to $7.5 billion, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported. Despite this, the company said it would complete the project and that "at least partial construction will recommence in the third quarter of 2019."
However, pipeline opponents are hoping the company will admit defeat.
"The Fourth Circuit has once again made it clear what everyone but the corporate polluters behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline already know: it is impossible to construct this fracked gas project without causing massive landslides and threatening the Appalachian Trail and our clean water. Any proposal to threaten our communities, our clean water, and our national parks and public lands simply cannot ever be permitted. It's past time that the companies behind the disastrous Atlantic Coast Pipeline abandon this dirty and dangerous project once and for all," Sierra Club Senior Attorney Nathan Matthews said in the SELC release.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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