The developers behind the PennEast Pipeline are, for now, dropping plans to commandeer state-owned lands for the controversial project.
Under PennEast Pipeline Co.’s proposal, eminent-domain would be used to build the natural gas pipeline over 42 separate parcels of publicly owned land. It would travel nearly 120 miles, carrying natural gas from the Marcellus Shale field in northeast Pennsylvania, going under the Delaware River through Hunterdon County and finishing at a terminal in Mercer County.
But a deal was struck this week with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, according to a one-page notice sent to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 20.
“We are pleased that after three years of litigation, PennEast has finally paused on trying to take state land,” reads a statement from Leland Moore, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office. “Although the company is still pushing ahead with plans to build an unnecessary and ill-conceived pipeline, we will continue to lead the fight against it, and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail in court.”
Patricia Kornick, a spokesperson for PennEast, indicated in a statement that the pipeline “might not be necessary for some time.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court gave PennEast the green light to seize the lands.
“The PennEast Pipeline Project is designed to meet the growing energy needs of the United States,” Kornick said, continuing that the “uncertainty on timing to resolve the remaining legal and regulatory hurdles” meant that the pipeline might not be the best option.
Environmentalists hailed the move, saying the pipeline would have posed a grave threat to New Jersey’s ecosystem, and questioning whether the pipeline was needed given the state’s current access to natural gas.
“[T]his move clearly suggests the polluting pipeline won’t happen,” reads a statement from Tom Gilbert, the campaign director for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “The news that PennEast won’t move ahead with trying to condemn state lands to develop an unneeded fossil gas pipeline is a huge and welcome development.