Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK)
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By Brent Kendall
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday suggested it was unlikely to block a planned natural-gas pipeline from running under a section of a major East Coast hiking trail.
At issue is the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would transport natural gas from West Virginia across 600 miles to sites in Virginia and North Carolina. The project, a partnership in which Dominion Energy Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. are major investors, is designed to reach East Coast markets and respond to demand for cleaner-burning fuel.
Environmentalists sued to challenge the U.S. regulatory process for approving the pipeline and won a notable decision in 2018 that faulted several parts of the approval process. Importantly, that ruling said the U.S. Forest Service didn't have the authority to grant a special-use permit that allowed the pipeline developers to construct a segment underneath a section of the Appalachian Trail.
During oral arguments Monday, conservative justices, who hold a majority on the Supreme Court, questioned that decision, as did at least one of the court's more liberal members, Justice Stephen Breyer.
Chief Justice John Roberts said the environmentalists' arguments could erect an "impermeable barrier" that would prevent the pipeline from crossing the trail and reaching East Coast customers.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the environmentalists' position threatened enormous consequences, while Justice Breyer suggested the pipeline was less of a problem because it was running hundreds of feet below ground and not actually across the trail.
A decision is expected by the end of June.
Write to Brent Kendall at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 24, 2020 12:20 ET (17:20 GMT)
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