Supreme Court will hear case on PennEast pipeline

Supreme Court will hear case on PennEast pipeline

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to take up a challenge from a pipeline project seeking to use eminent domain to build a natural gas pipeline between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC is seeking to overturn a decision from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that blocks it from seizing New Jersey state land to build its 116-mile project.

The state of New Jersey has opposed the project, as have environmental groups, but under the Trump administration, the White House sided with the pipeline company.

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It is the federal government who has the “primary authority to determine whether additional pipelines and related facilities are needed and, if so, where they should be located and whom they should serve,” the solicitor general’s office wrote in a December brief.

Those opposed to the pipeline argue states should have a say.

“The law is clear, and the Eleventh Amendment protects New Jersey from seizures by private companies using eminent domain. The Supreme Court should uphold the Third Circuit ruling and protect states from federal overreach,” Maya van Rossum, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, which opposes the project, said in a statement.

Tony Cox, chair of the board of managers of the PennEast Pipeline, said the Supreme Court's decision to grant a review is "a major step forward in upholding Congress’ clear charge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure the availability of affordable domestic energy," adding that "federally approved pipeline projects undergo an extensive review process."

Last summer, 20 states sued the Trump administration in a separate suit, challenging an Environmental Protection Agency rule that weakens states’ ability to block pipelines and other controversial projects that cross their waterways.

Updated at 3:30 p.m.