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The Biden Administration is backing a natural gas pipeline project in a legal fight about eminent domain that ended up in the Supreme Court, a move that shocked environmentalists who had hoped the Administration would not support any oil and gas pipeline projects.
The Department of Justice, however, backed the PennEast natural gas pipeline project in a lawsuit the Supreme Court agreed last week to hear.
PennEast is a pipeline project of 120 miles to carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and will meet growing energy demand in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, one of the project shareholders, Enbridge, says.
The PennEast Pipeline Company is looking to overturn a federal appeals court ruling from 2019, which said that PennEast could not use eminent domain to seize land owned by the state of New Jersey for pipeline construction. The federal appeals court argued in 2019 that taking the New Jersey-owned land went against the 11th Amendment, which protects states from certain lawsuits.
The Supreme Court last week agreed to hear the case, and now the Biden Administration, just like the Trump Administration before that, is backing in a brief to the court the arguments of the pipeline company seeking to overturn the lower court’s ruling.
Ron Morano, executive director of Affordable Energy for New Jersey, told Bloomberg Law he hoped that the Biden Administration’s support to PennEast could “be indicative of this administration’s future positions on our energy independence.”
Environmentalists were disappointed, with Maya K. van Rossum, head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, telling Bloomberg Law the backing of PennEast “is an abuse of power and trust and a failure of the current administration to do its duty to protect people and our environment.”
Since taking office, President Joe Biden has killed the Keystone XL project and ordered a pause on new permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands and in federal waters, giving environmentalists hopes that the Administration would side against any pipeline projects in the future.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com