Supreme Court will not postpone plans for natural gas pipeline

The Supreme Court has sided with a pipeline company in a dispute with New Jersey that the company needs for a natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a pipeline company in a dispute with New Jersey over the company’s need for a natural gas pipeline.

Both liberal and conservative judges joined in Rule 5-4 for the PenEast Pipeline Company. The 116-mile planned pipeline is to run from Luzerne County in Pennsylvania to Mercer County in New Jersey. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave PenEast a so-called Certificate of Public Facility and Need to allow the company’s project to go ahead in 2018 but lawsuits followed.

The company eventually took New Jersey to court to acquire state-controlled land for its project. PenEast argued that the commission’s green signal of its project allowed it to take New Jersey to court and use the prestigious domain to acquire state-controlled properties. Supreme Court accepted.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that when FERC issues a certificate of public convenience and necessity, federal law authorizes the certificate holder to “indemnify all necessary rights, whether private parties or states.” be owned.”

The High Court’s decision does not end litigation over the pipeline. A separate challenge to the New Jersey-connected pipeline is pending in a federal appeals court in Washington.

During arguments in the case in April, a lawyer for the PenEast Pipeline Company acknowledged that if the company was defeated in the Supreme Court, the 120-mile pipeline “would not be built at least in anything like its current configuration.”

New Jersey, which opposes the pipeline project, argued that PenEast could not take the state to court to acquire the property – only the United States government could. The state argued that a federal law, the Natural Gas Act, does not explicitly authorize private lawsuits by private parties against states.

A federal appeals court sided with New Jersey while a lower court sided with PenEast.

The case is Peneast Pipeline Company v. New Jersey, 19-1039.


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