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February 8, 2021

Supreme Court Will Hear Case Regarding Pipeline In NJ, PA

The U.S. Supreme Court last week agreed to take up a case concerning the 116-mile PennEast Pipeline that eventually would run through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The company building the pipeline is seeking to use eminent domain to build the project, but the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had blocked that request.

The state of New Jersey opposes the project.

As Connecting the Dots reported last year, in a brief filed last March, the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA), which MSCI is a member of, urged the Supreme Court to review the Third Circuit’s decision, stating that if it were allowed to stand, it would empower any state to veto any interstate natural gas pipeline project by refusing the developer’s access to lands in which the state had ownership or an easement. That refusal could be issued even if the project has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). EEIA also said the ruling, if allowed to stand, would be “profoundly disruptive” to energy infrastructure development.

The Third Circuit had ruled that the principle of “sovereign immunity” prevented a private entity such as a pipeline operator to exercise legal authority to invoke eminent domain over a state. In its brief, EEIA argued that the pipeline operator was exercising that authority on behalf of the federal government, granted through FERC’s issuance of a certificate.

The case is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court in April, with a decision expected by June of this year. Stay tuned to Connecting the Dots for more information as this story develops.

In related news: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a new initiative that highlights the benefits of natural gas. Click here to learn more.