In issuing a Special Use Permit authorizing construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through parts of the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, with a right of way across the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the U.S. Forest Service failed to comply with the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Mineral Leasing Act.
The Forest Service is trusted to “speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,” like Dr. Seuss’s Lorax. But here, the agency had serious environmental concerns that were suddenly and mysteriously assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company’s deadlines. These circumstances support the conclusion that the agency abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources.
Petition granted; agency decision vacated and remanded.