The plaintiffs, The Sierra Club and the Virginia Wilderness Committee, argued that the NPS didn't have the right to grant the right-of-way for the natural gas pipeline because it violated the agency's mandate to conserve the environment. "It remains to be seen how much of a delay the ruling will cause," Jarvis writes.
"Chief Judge Roger Gregory, in a footnote to his written opinion, scolded the park service, calling its issuance of a permit 'arbitrary and capricious' for invoking laws that weren’t applicable, and for not explaining how approval was consistent with its mission," Jarvis reports. Gregory wrote in the opinion that Duke Energy and its partners must have a valid permit from the park service to continue construction, and to do so without it would violate previous authorization from the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission.
The ruling comes days after the same three judges of the Fourth Circuit Court rescinded permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, saying that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management hadn't fully vetted the project for its environmental impact.