Federal Court Quotes 'The Lorax' In Ruling Against Forest-Destroying Pipeline

by Thea Glassman
Image via esemelwe/Getty

A federal court nixed plans for a pipeline being built across the Appalachian Trail

The environment has finally, finally gotten a much-needed win. A federal appeals court nixed a power company’s permit to build a gas pipeline through the Appalachian Trail and two national forests.

Then, the judges on the panel quoted Dr. Seuss’s iconic children’s book The Lorax, proving there’s still some goodness left in the world.

On Thursday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA chastised the U.S. Forest Service for granting a permit for the pipeline, which “abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources,” NPR reported.

The panel of judges explained that the permit went directly against the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. They also noted that the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t even have authority to grant the permit.

“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 judges wrote in a statement.

The federal court went on to to quote The Lorax, writing: “We trust the United States Forest Service to ‘speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.'”

Be still my heart. There’s nothing like invoking the wise words of Dr. Seuss into the legal process to make everyone feel very warm and happy. Somebody please give all these judges a very, very large hug.

The federal court also spelled out the amount of damage that the pipeline would have caused the national forests. And it’s…quite a lot.

“Construction would involve clearing trees and other vegetation from a 125-foot right of way (reduced to 75 feet in wetlands) through the national forests, digging a trench to bury the pipeline, and blasting and flattening ridgelines in mountainous terrains,” they explained. “Following construction, the project requires maintaining a 50-foot right of way (reduced to 30 feet in wetlands) through the [two national forests] for the life of the pipeline.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center, one of the environmental groups that filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service, noted that the timing of this permit lines up with our current administration’s complete disregard for the environment.

“I think what happened here is for years the Forest Service was asking tough questions about this project and requesting additional information and it turned on a dime when the Trump administration came into power,” Patrick Hunter, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

All the applause to the judges at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for making such an important call. Dr. Seuss and the whole town of Thneedville would wholeheartedly approve.