On June 29, in PennEast Pipeline Co., LLC v. New Jersey et al., No. 19-1039, the Supreme Court rejected New Jersey’s sovereign immunity arguments and held that Section 717f(h) of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) authorizes Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certificate-holders to condemn all necessary rights-of-way to construct pipelines, whether owned by private parties or by states.  “Because the [NGA] delegates the federal eminent domain power to private parties, those parties can initiate condemnation proceedings, including against state-owned property.”

Chief Justice Roberts authored the 5-4 opinion, joined by Justices Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kavanaugh.  The Court reversed and remanded the Third Circuit’s judgment.  In a prior post, we discussed that judgment and other factual and legal background of the case.


Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds that Natural Gas Act Delegates Eminent Domain Power, Allowing FERC Certificate-Holders to Condemn State-Owned Property

On April 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in PennEast Pipeline Co., LLC v. New Jersey et al., No. 19-1039, a case with significant implications for pipeline projects.  The main issue is whether the Natural Gas Act (NGA) delegates the federal government’s eminent domain power to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certificate holders and allows them to sue a state to condemn land in which the state claims an interest, or whether the Eleventh Amendment immunizes states from such lawsuits.

Continue Reading Supreme Court to Hear Arguments regarding Natural Gas Act and Eminent Domain Power

In a decision issued on April 12, 2018, a Fourth Circuit panel held (2-1) that (1) even though a pipeline leak has been repaired and remediation is ongoing under the supervision of the state environmental agency, environmental groups have standing to sue the pipeline owner, and (2) plaintiffs’ allegation that groundwater continues to carry discharged pollutants to jurisdictional waters through a “direct hydrological connection” supports liability under the Clean Water Act.
Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Extends CWA Liability to Cover a Wholly Past Pipeline Spill