Court rules that Atlantic Coast Pipeline cannot cross the Appalachian Trail
A court decision on Thursday by Virginia’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals cancelled the US Forest Service’s federal approval for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the George Washington National Forest, Monongahela National Forest and the Appalachian Trail. The ruling found that the Forest Service approval fell short of federal requirements and that the Forest Service failed to evaluate the risks of landslide and erosion or consider alternative pipeline routes that avoid national forests entirely. The Court also ruled that the Forest Service cannot authorize the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is part of the National Park System and has Congressional protection from projects such as natural gas pipelines.
New organization advocates for Virginia’s trails
Formed in early November, the Virginia Trails Alliance is a new coalition of trail-focused organizations dedicated to advocating for trails and trail funding across the state of Virginia. The group grew out of a recommendation from the State Trails Advisory Committee and will advocate for outdoor recreation with the Governor and General Assembly. The coalition is currently inviting all trail-focused non-profit, for-profit and governmental organizations to join. There are no dues, so membership is free.
Strongest earthquake in a decade jolts Eastern Tennessee
On Wednesday a 4.4-magnitude earthquake struck rural east Tennessee, rattling structures as far away as Atlanta. The quake struck at 4:14 a.m. just outside of Decatur, Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains. The earthquake was shallow, about 5.5 miles below the surface of the earth, and was the strongest earthquake in the region since 1973 when a 4.7-magnitude earthquake shook Maryville, Tennessee. The United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) said that people in a 310-mile area, from Southern Kentucky to Southwest Georgia, felt the quake. The earthquake struck about two miles east of the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, one of the largest nuclear power stations in the country. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the plant, reported no damage. About 15 minutes after the initial quake a smaller, 3.3-magnitude jolt also struck. The U.S.G.S. reports that the quakes were not on a fault but did take place in the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone, one of the most active earthquake zones in the Southeast.