UPDATE: Pipeline Challenge Submitted to Federal Appeals Court
APRIL 23, 2019 — A friend of the court brief to challenge the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) has been submitted on behalf of the City of Staunton and Nelson County to a federal appeals court.
City Council voted unanimously six months ago to join Nelson County in submitting an amici curiae brief to present its concerns about the ACP to a federal appeals court. The court will hear legal challenges to decisions of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
An amicus brief is provided by non-litigants in appellate court cases who have a strong interest in the subject matter and provides supplemental information and arguments for the consideration of the court. The City will not become a party to the litigation but act as a friend of the court.
The primary reason for the City's participation in the brief stems from concerns about the possible contamination of Gardner Spring during the construction of the pipeline, as well as if a contaminant spill occurred along the proposed pipeline corridor. The spring provides a substantial amount of the City's water supply, as well as some for Augusta County, and the proposed route for the pipeline passes through the spring's recharge area.
The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) also filed a challenge and a brief in the same federal court of appeals this month on behalf of numerous other parties opposing the pipeline. View the SELC brief.
For background information on how the City came to join the challenge, see the initial news release on the subject below.
City Voices Water Concerns in Pipeline Challenge
NOVEMBER 9, 2018 — The City of Staunton has joined Nelson County to express its concerns to a federal appeals court in a legal challenge to the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Staunton City Council voted unanimously during its regular meeting on Oct. 25 to adopt a resolution that authorizes participation in a brief amicus curiae, or amicus brief, and present its concerns about the pipeline to the federal appeals court that will be hearing legal challenges to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
An amicus brief is provided by non-litigants in appellate court cases and provides supplemental information and arguments for the consideration of the court. The City will not become a party to the litigation but act as a “friend of the court.”
The Nelson County Board of Supervisors has already approved participation in the brief, and Staunton’s city council has been informed that other localities and government agencies affected by the pipeline’s construction are considering joining the brief as well.
Last October, FERC issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity authorizing the construction of the pipeline on a route passing nearby the City of Staunton and the recharge zone for the City’s major water supply source at Gardner Spring. The spring supplies approximately half of the City’s water and also supplies some water to the citizens of Augusta County.
“Submitting an amicus brief is likely our last real opportunity to voice our concerns yet again,” said Mayor Carolyn Dull. “City council is united in its commitment and diligence to protect one of Staunton’s most important natural resources in Gardner Spring, and will continue to fight for its preservation.”
Council’s foremost concern is the impact of potential contaminant spills along the pipeline corridor, thereby potentially tainting Gardner Spring.
“Our fears were confirmed recently when we learned of Dominion Energy’s own trace dye test, which found that the karst terrain allows infiltration to Gardner Spring,” Dull said. “Since 2014, we’ve written numerous letters to FERC and others about our uneasiness with the potential impact of the pipeline on our water supply, only to receive no response. Regrettably, no one has answered any of our concerns, such as who will pay for an alternate water source for Staunton and Augusta County if the pipeline construction or an associated disaster destroys or contaminates Gardner Spring.”
Council’s position on the issue is further detailed in the resolution it adopted on Oct. 25.
The possible cost to the City to participate, subject to any contribution from other localities, is approximately $8,000.
Ruth Jones Turner