Supreme Court Natural Gas Pipeline Ruling Sets Up Major Fight

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Democrats suffered another defeat recently when the U.S. Supreme Court upset the Left with a ruling that’s going to set up a major fight.

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of an energy company, outraging Democrats. The nation’s highest court ruled developers of the $1 billion PennEast natural gas pipeline can seize New Jersey land to build the project.

Republican appointees Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh voted in the majority with Democratic appointees Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Trump-appointed Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch joined Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan, a Democrat-appointee, in dissenting, Energy Wire reported.

Now, landowners are asking the justices to place similar limits on pipeline developers’ ability to acquire private property for their projects.

The report continued:

Cletus and Beverly Bohon, along with others living in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, filed a petition on Sept. 15 asking the justices to weigh in on a narrow question with broad repercussions for the landowners’ bid to block the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from delegating eminent domain power to companies that build natural gas infrastructure.

Mia Yugo, a private attorney representing the landowners, said in a statement that her clients would like to see the courts ultimately curtail FERC’s authority, as the justices have done in recent rulings against federal climate rules and vaccine mandates.

Rather than challenge the FERC certificate authorizing the construction of Mountain Valley, as other pipeline opponents have done, the Bohons sought to tackle the very source of the commission’s authority to allow companies to condemn land in the path of an approved project. They have argued that a Natural Gas Act provision allowing FERC to delegate its eminent domain authority to certified project developers is unconstitutional.

“We cannot say, in the one instance, that the EPA has too much power and Congress needs to be more specific before the EPA can wield that power,” she said, “but then, in the same breath, look at FERC and say, ‘Well, we really need pipelines, so we’ll just let FERC run wild with little to no guidance from Congress, as it has done for decades.’”

Yugo said it is absurd to require parties challenging the constitutionality of FERC’s actions to submit their complaints to the commission before they can challenge the agency in court. Not only that, she said, FERC has held it does not have jurisdiction to determine the constitutionality of the authority delegated to the commission by Congress.

In her court filing, Yugo cited the jurisdictional precedent set in the Supreme Court case PennEast v. New Jersey.

Beyond that, President Joe Biden is dealing with gas prices in the U.S. being very high. Biden’s response has been to call on American companies to increase domestic oil production.

“They’re not falling fast enough. Families are hurting. You’ve heard me say it before, but I get it, Biden said, adding, “we need to responsibly increase American oil production without delay or deferring our transition to clean energy.”

“In a push to strengthen energy independence at home, Biden also launched a new initiative to boost the production of critical minerals used in batteries for electric vehicles, as well as laptops and smartphones. The Biden administration awarded $2.8 billion in federal infrastructure grants to 12 manufacturing companies with plans to produce lithium and other minerals critical for batteries,” USA Today reported.

“Efforts come as Biden faces increasing pressure to find answers to lower gas prices that have flatted after decreasing over the late summer. It has strengthened headwinds for Democrats as they look to hold onto the power of the Senate and House in next month’s midterm elections,” the outlet added.

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