The PennEast Pipeline Co. will seek further review from the U.S. Supreme Court in light of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit not granting its application to rehear or reconsider a prior decision that would block the company from condemning state-owned land for the project.
In September, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit held that the State of New Jersey’s Eleventh Amendment immunity protected it from efforts of a private company to exercise expressly delegated federal eminent domain authority to condemn easements necessary to construct a federally approved natural gas infrastructure project.
PennEast says the decision threatens to disrupt longstanding industry practice and halt natural gas infrastructure development that has lowered energy bills, powered economic development, and resulted in the United States leading the world in carbon emission reductions.
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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.
“The PennEast partner companies are fully committed to the project and will be seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court,” PennEast Pipeline Co. Board of Managers Chairman Anthony Cox said. “The Third Circuit’s decision has implications far beyond the PennEast project. No interstate pipeline nationwide of any significant length can be built without crossing land where a state claims an interest. State governments, just like other landowners, should not be allowed to disrupt or veto vital energy infrastructure that expert federal regulators have found to be in the public interest.”
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the current route for the PennEast Pipeline fully understanding that it crosses properties in which the State of New Jersey claims an interest, according to PennEast.
FERC approved that route after accepting the state’s urging that the pipeline be co-located with existing rights-of-way to minimize environmental impacts – primarily aligning the pipeline with overhead power lines that have been in place for decades, on land where the state claims an interest. Three federal agencies and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have already found PennEast to be safe for the environment.
Through the Third Circuit litigation and other legal actions, the State of New Jersey has moved to block needed supplies of natural gas, PennEast said, even though 75 percent of New Jersey homes rely on it for heating, and utility companies are raising alarms about their ability to meet customer demand in coming winters.