A federal appeals court in Virginia thinks the US Forest Service forgot a fundamental part of its mission, and it summoned Dr. Seuss to remind them. “We trust the United States Forest Service to ‘speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,'" the fourth US circuit court of appeals wrote last week in a case involving a power company's request to build a natural gas pipeline. As NPR notes, the "tongues" quote is a reference to The Lorax, who at one point declares: “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” A three-judge panel from the court ruled that the Forest Service "abdicated its responsibility" in giving approval to Dominion Energy to move ahead with the pipeline. It's far from the end of the issue, however.
The $7 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline would go through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, but it would also cut through two national forests as well as the Appalachian Trail. The court specifically found fault with approval to run the pipe under a section of the latter trail in Virginia, reports the Richmond Times Dispatch. Dominion plans to appeal to the full court, while pipeline opponents, including the Southern Environmental Law Center, hope the decision will lead to a wholesale revocation of the pipeline's permit. Dominion also could ask Congress for approval to use the federal land. (Elsewhere, a group of nuns found a novel way to oppose a pipeline near them.)