U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco requested a one-month extension to the Supreme Court for the time the government has to file a petition. The extension was to get enough time to appeal on a circuit court decision that is preventing Dominion Energy Inc., from building the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline across the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.
The time will expire on May 28 without an extension and the Solicitor General is requesting the extension till June 25. The project's costs have ballooned due to legal and regulatory delays. Dominion would cancel the pipeline if the Supreme Court does not hear the case, analysts say.
If the Solicitor General joins the appeal, it would increase the chances the court will hear the case, said Dominion's Chief Executive Thomas Farrell and the company welcomed the news that the Solicitor General would join the case.
The company initially estimated that the 600-mile pipeline project would cost $6 billion to $6.5 billion and will be able to complete in late 2019. But due to the legal challenges the cost went up to $7 billion to $7.5 billion and the company is hoping to resume construction in the third quarter and complete it by early 2021.
The pipeline construction was suspended in early December after the Fourth Circuit stayed a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit that authorized building the pipe in areas inhabited by threatened or endangered species.