(AP) — The Supreme Court
sided with a pipeline company on Tuesday in a dispute with New Jersey
over land needed for a natural gas
Both liberal and conservative justices joined to rule 5-4 in favor of the PennEast Pipeline Co.
The 116-mile planned pipeline would run from Pennsylvania
's Luzerne County to Mercer County in New Jersey. The Federal Energy
had approved the company's project in 2018 by granting PennEast a certificate of public convenience and necessity, but lawsuits ensued.
PennEast argued that the commission's approval of its project entitled it to sue New Jersey and use eminent domain to acquire state-controlled land for its project, and the Supreme Court agreed.
According to Chief Justice John Roberts
, who wrote for the majority, when FERC issues a certificate of public convenience and necessity, federal law authorizes the certificate holder "to condemn all necessary rights-of-way, whether owned by private parties or States
Conservative justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, as well as liberal justices Stephen Breyer
and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts.
The Supreme Court's decision does not put an end to the pipeline's litigation; a separate challenge to the pipeline involving New Jersey is currently pending in a federal appeals court in Washington.
During oral arguments in the case in April
, a lawyer for PennEast Pipeline Co. admitted that if the company lost at the Supreme Court, the 120-mile pipeline would "not be built in anything like its current configuration."
New Jersey, which opposes the pipeline project, argued that PennEast could not sue the state to acquire the property; only the federal government could do so, citing a federal law, the Natural Gas Act, that does not explicitly authorize private lawsuits by private parties against states.
A federal appeals court ruled in favor of New Jersey, after a lower court ruled in favor of PennEast.
PennEast Pipeline Company v. New Jersey, 19-1039, is the case at hand.