Court quotes 'The Lorax' in ruling blocking permit for pipeline to cross national forests

A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., cited Dr. Seuss's famous book "The Lorax" in a Thursday ruling against a permit for a natural gas pipeline originally planned to run across the Appalachian Trail.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit wrote Thursday that the U.S. Forest Service “abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources” by approving a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have crossed the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, according to The Associated Press.

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"We trust the United States Forest Service to 'speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,' ” the three-judge panel wrote.

A review of the permit records led the court to its decision, according to the Staunton News Leader.

"This conclusion is particularly informed by the Forest Service’s serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company’s deadlines," the court's opinion continues.

Reached for comment about the court's rebuke, a U.S. Forest Service spokesperson said that the agency would "review the information received from the court opinion about the Atlantic Coastline Pipeline and will be looking at our options before taking any action." 

Dominion Energy, the company behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, criticized Thursday's decision in a statement to the News Leader.

"We strongly disagree with the court’s ruling," said Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby. "The court’s decision is at odds with the consensus of the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service."