The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit dealt a blow to the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline project Tuesday by not granting PennEast’s application to rehear or reconsider a prior decision that would block the company from condemning state-owned land for the project.
The PennEast Pipeline Co. is proposing constructing underground pipes to carry natural gas along a 120-mile route from Luzerne County, Pa. across the Delaware River and through Holland, Alexandria, Kingwood, Delaware, West Amwell and Hopewell townships in New Jersey. The company consists of NJR Pipeline Co.; SJI Midstream; Southern Company Gas; Spectra Energy Partners; and UGI Energy Services, according to the PennEast website.
If courts approve the project, PennEast estimates construction will generate $1.62 billion in economic activity and support about 12,000 jobs with an associated $740 million in wages, according to a 2015 study from Econsult Solutions touted by the company.
PennEast proponents contend the proposed $1 billion project will bring natural gas in a safe manner and provide high-paying construction jobs. Opponents warn it would damage the environment, displace residents, and pose risks to human health.
“This common-sense ruling takes New Jersey a step closer to permanently stopping a gas pipeline we don’t need,” Tom Gilbert, campaign director for New Jersey Conservation Foundation & ReThink Energy NJ, said. “Our state can be proud of the Murphy Administration’s strong defense of state-preserved lands from seizure at the hands of PennEast. Now, let’s get past the gas industry’s last-ditch efforts to prop up fossil fuels and instead keep moving down the path to clean, safe, affordable, renewable energy like wind and solar.”
“The Third Circuit refused to give PennEast a do-over, standing by its original well-reasoned legal analysis,” Jennifer Danis, staff attorney at Columbia University Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic, said. “The Constitution required it to protect New Jersey’s sovereign powers, and PennEast’s recycling of its earlier arguments did not disturb that ruling.”
PennEast spokeswoman Pat Kornick said it is evaluating all its options in light of this recent development and that PennEast member companies remain committed to the project.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article listed PSEG Power as part of PennEast Pineline Co. It is not, and the post has been updated accordingly.