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United States Supreme Court Rules PennEast Pipeline Project May Use Prominent Estate to Seize New Jersey State Land

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The Justice Department of former President Trump and current President Biden has sided with PennEast.

But opponents say the move violates state rights and flies in the face of state and nation’s climate goals by locking down yet another fossil fuel infrastructure project that will further encourage fracking for natural gas. in Pennsylvania. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said he was disappointed with the decision but vowed to continue fighting the project.

“We still have other legal challenges pending against this pipeline project, which is unnecessary and would be destructive to New Jersey lands,” Grewal said in a statement. “I am proud to continue this fight on behalf of our residents, and I urge the federal government to reconsider this harmful proposal.”

Energy and Trade Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) called the move a “dangerous precedent.”

“States like New Jersey should be able to retain their right to do whatever they want with the land they own, and no private actor – including pipeline companies – should be able to usurp that right. I am determined to work with my colleagues to do everything in our power to preserve this important right of the state.

Maya van Rossum of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network said there were more ways to block the project and the Supreme Court ruling was not the last word.

“It’s taking the rights of states very literally and subjecting them to the profit goals of private industry, and that’s fundamentally and morally wrong,” she said. “It’s not just about PennEast, it’s about hydraulic fracturing, it’s about end use and ultimately it’s about contributing to the climate crisis for future generations. . “

The project still needs Clean Water Act permits from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as approvals from the Delaware River Basin Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Pennsylvania has taken steps to grant these permits; New Jersey denied them.

The 116-mile pipeline would ship Marcellus Shale gas from Luzerne County, northeastern Pennsylvania, across the Delaware River to Mercer County, New Jersey, to provide residents with what the company says it’s affordable and essential natural gas. The project would cross dozens of streams and wetlands, as well as the main course of the Delaware River.

New Jersey has withheld from the project the necessary permits to cross the waterways. The state says it has spent around $ 1 billion to acquire and control the open space plots and to preserve the land for recreation, conservation and agriculture, and that it should not be used for ship natural gas.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission first approved the project in 2015, sparking objections from residents, environmentalists and the state of New Jersey. As a result of FERC’s rulemaking and public comment process, the company changed the itinerary in at least 33 cases.

A number of parties have challenged the pipeline in court.

Since the Third Circuit ruling against the company, PennEast has sought FERC approval to build the pipeline in two stages, starting in the Pennsylvania side, where it has already secured most of the necessary permits. If approved, the line would have interconnections with the Adelphia Gateway and Columbia Gas transmission pipelines in Northampton County. The company plans to complete and commission the Pennsylvania section of the route in 2022, while the New Jersey section would be operational in 2024.

The New Jersey attorney general and the Delaware Riverkeeper both challenged FERC’s authorization of the project in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which was on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision. This matter can now move forward.

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