Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, proposed construction of a natural gas pipeline stretching from West Virginia to North Carolina. The route approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission included a section running across National Forest System land, including the point at which the pipeline would cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST). After initial objections, the U.S. Forest Service reversed course and issued the needed right-of-way across National Forest System lands. Environmental groups objected and a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously held that the Forest Service had acted arbitrarily and capriciously thereby violating both the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The Fourth Circuit vacated the grant of the right-of-way. Additionally, that court ruled that the Forest Service lacked authority under the Mineral Leasing Act to issue a right-of-way for a pipeline crossing the ANST. Only this last ruling is the subject of Supreme Court review.
Robert Abrams, Does the National Forest Service Have Authority to Grant Rights-of-Way under the Mineral Leasing Act through National Forest Lands Traversed by the Appalachian Trails (18-1584) (18-1587), 47 Preview U.S. Sup. Ct. Cas. 4 (24).