Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that could drastically change the way oil and gas pipelines are built in the future. Starting April 28, the court began hearing oral arguments in the case of PennEast Pipeline Company vs. New Jersey.
In dispute is whether PennEast can use eminent domain to seize land needed to construct a 120-mile, 36-in. natural gas pipeline originating in northeastern Pennsylvania and terminating at Transco’s pipeline interconnection near Pennington, New Jersey. Approximately one-third of the route is located in New Jersey.
The $1.1 billion pipeline would carry 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of gas produced in the Marcellus shale region to serve customers in the Northeast United States.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project in January 2018. However, the state of New Jersey opposed the project, and the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2019 that PennEast could not use federal eminent domain to seize land needed for the construction of the pipeline.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Feb. 3 that it would hear the appeal of the PennEast Pipeline Co. The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) filed a friend of the court amicus brief in support of the project, and CEA Mid-Atlantic director Mike Butler said in an April 28 statement that ruling in favor of PennEast would provide much-needed certainty for the energy industry.
“In a time of great evolution of our energy systems, the importance of upholding existing laws that enable the massive investments required to provide reliable, environmentally sound and affordable energy cannot be understated,” Butler said. “The PennEast case is about putting a stop to activist-driven state actions that deny consumers and businesses across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast their right to safe, affordable and abundant energy.”
Butler argued that the Constitution supports arguments in favor of the PennEast project.
“The framers of our Constitution correctly recognized that no single state should be able to put its individual or political priorities above those of the nation, as has happened in PennEast to the detriment of consumers in neighboring states,” he added. “We hope the court agrees and finds in favor of PennEast. Doing so will provide the certainty needed to encourage the large investments in energy systems, both renewable and traditional, needed to keep energy affordable, environmentally sound and reliable into the future.”The Supreme Court is expected provide its decision in late June.