Appalachian Trail Conservancy Opposes Legislation
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy issued a press release on July 7th in strong opposition to legislation that would expedite pipeline construction in national parks, including the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.). Three bills—H.R. 2295 in the House of Representatives and S. 411 and S. 1196 in the Senate—would accelerate review of natural gas pipeline approvals and would allow the Secretary of the Interior to issue natural gas pipeline rights of way on National Park Service lands.
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail.
Ron Tipton, the ATC’s executive director/CEO said “National Park Service land—including major portions of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail—is set aside for the preservation and enjoyment of the American people. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy believes the current requirement that only Congress can approve these pipelines across national park units such as the A.T. should continue to be the law of the land.”
The proposed legislation would authorize the Secretary to issue a right of way on NPS lands, reversing the longstanding prohibition on allowing such pipelines in national parks. According to ATC, The development of pipeline infrastructure is inconsistent with the conservation mandate of NPS as set forth in the NPS Organic Act, and not allowing the NPS to permit a right of way for pipelines has not prevented the issue of permits through Congressional action. Expediting the siting of new gas pipeline infrastructure on NPS lands would very likely cause significant damage to the integrity of the Trail.
The designation of National Energy Security Corridors for the construction of natural gas pipelines on Federal lands should be a key piece of any national energy policy. Expediting pipeline approvals without such a policy in place is inconsistent with best management of our public lands.
Laura Belleville, the ATC’s director of Conservation, said “The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is concerned about the cumulative impacts that multiple pipelines, and associated infrastructure, could have on the Appalachian Trail, its recreational value, and surrounding public lands. “Although the ATC recognizes that the demand for energy resources is increasing, we also believe this demand should be met first with increased energy conservation and a renewable energy supply. Expediting new pipelines on public lands without a thorough analysis of impacts is not the answer.”
The ATC urges the public to contact the appropriate Congressional representatives and oppose the current version of H.R. 2295, S. 411 and S. 1196. To contact a state senator or a representative, visit www.usa.gov.