Show & Tell: Contesting PennEast’s effort to use the power of eminent domain

Timothy P. Duggan is a shareholder with the law firm of Stark & Stark in Lawrenceville, where he is chair of the firm’s Eminent Domain Group.

He talked about contesting PennEast’s effort to use the power of eminent domain to build its pipeline in New Jersey.

“The State of New Jersey successfully obtained a decision from the Court of Appeals requiring PennEast to dismiss the case against the state of New Jersey. A win by Gurbir Grewal, the attorney general of the state of New Jersey, is a win for all of the residents in the state, since it will result in the continued preservation of our natural resources. Residents in other states should also be rooting for the state of New Jersey. PennEast has made the argument that the recent decision under appeal, which prohibits a private pipeline company from suing a state in federal court to acquire property rights to build a pipeline, is a game-changer and gives states veto power over future pipeline projects. Although this claim is suspect on its face, pipeline companies cannot make their own rules just because they have successfully used the same ‘playbook’ for 80 years without an adverse court decision. This argument leads one to question whether the pipeline projects built over the past 80 years were actually necessary and approved by the various states at a time when natural gas was a good alternative to other fuels. Times change, as do policies, and pipelines cannot be allowed to ignore the sovereign rights of the states, a protection many states negotiated when they joined the union.”