Sooner or later a pipeline case had to arrive at the Supreme Court. Last week the Court rules on the first high profile case. The court ruled in favor of a 600-mile natural gas pipeline proposed to go under the Appalachian Trail in rural Virginia. We wrote on the case in our blog on June 16, 2020. The decision also removed a hurdle for another 300-mile pipeline and could prompt development on other ecologically important lands.
The Supreme Court will now consider whether it will grant or deny review, or seek the input of another pipeline case involving eminent domain and States’ constitutional rights. If the Court grants cert. and reaffirms a lower court’s ruling, that could, in effect, give State’s veto power to block natural gas pipelines.
The Supreme Court is also expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to grant the Trump administration’s request last week to stay a lower court’s ruling on the still unsolved Keystone Project which also resulted in permitting delays of numerous other pipelines.
The increased opposition has added significantly to the time it takes to develop a pipeline. Keystone, for example, has been undergoing review for 12 years.
The condemnation case could create the biggest precedent for fighting pipelines going forward.
A Federal Appeals Court ruled in September that developers of the 120-mile Penn East Pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey couldn’t use Federal law to seize land controlled by the State to build the project because of the 11th Amendment.
The Court said its conclusion could likely upend how interstate natural gas pipelines have been built, “But that is what the Eleventh Amendment demands.”
When Trump loses re-election, you can expect President Biden to be increasingly hostile to fossil fuel projects. Watch his ads. He is very concerned with the environment.