New Jersey AG Asks Federal Court To Block PennEast Pipeline Eminent Domain Action

New Jersey’s attorney general asked a US District Court in the state Friday to reject a request by the PennEast Pipeline consortium to condemn state property interests in “preserved land” for its proposed natural-gas pipeline, Reuters reported.

The state said in its court filing that the PennEast request should be dismissed because the court lacks jurisdiction over New Jersey, and because the company “failed to even attempt to contract with the state in order to acquire the property interests,” Reuters said.

PennEast wants federal court approval to seize 149 of 211 properties in the path of the proposed pipeline in New Jersey, which the company says it needs to build its 120-mile, $1-billion pipeline to bring Marcellus shale-gas to Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The State of New Jersey owns 20 properties preserved for environmental reasons in the path of the proposed pipeline, and another 30 properties in the pipeline path have been set-aside for environmental reasons, often owned by non-profits.

PennEast said it expects the project to finish in 2019, after seven months of construction.

PennEast is a joint venture with 20% stakes owned by units of Enbridge (ENB), New Jersey Resources (NJR), South Jersey Industries (SJI), Southern Co. (SO) and UGI (UGI). Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG) and Consolidated Edison (ED) have contracted for gas from the pipeline.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved construction of the 120-mile PennEast pipeline in January.