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PennEast drops New Jersey gas pipeline project

Murphy, Ciattarelli both opposed plan to build 116-mile natural gas pipeline through parts of Central Jersey

By David Wildstein, September 27 2021 10:59 am

PennEast Pipeline Co. has pulled the plug on a controversial plan to build a $1 billion, 116-mile natural gas pipeline was opposed by both Gov. Phil Murphy and his Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli.

The decision to stop work on the project comes three months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in their favor to permit the interstate pipeline project to forcibly acquire state-owned land through eminent domain.

“PennEast partners, following extensive evaluation and discussion, recently determined further development of the project is no longer supporter,” the company said in a statement. “PennEast has ceased all further development. Of the project.”

Murphy had fought PennEast and took them to court. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the federal law regulating the natural gas industry didn’t outweigh the state’s immunities accorded from the 11th amendment.

“Since Day One, the Murphy Administration has fought the construction of the PennEast pipeline, which would have harmed New Jersey’s residents, businesses, and fragile natural resources,” said acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck. “We have always said that this pipeline was dangerous and unnecessary, and our office was proud to fight PennEast all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to block the construction. Today’s decision is a tremendous victory for the people of the Garden State.”

The pipeline was to have run from Mercer County to northeastern Pennsylvania, crossing through Hunterdon County.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection had slowed permitting to a crawl.

This is a win for Murphy and came with minimal political cost. He has won the support of the New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council and the state AFL-CIO even though labor had backed the job-producing project.

“[I’m] very gratified by the decision to pull out permanently on the PennEast front,” Murphy said at an otherwise unrelated press briefing today. “The need was always questionable, but more importantly it would have ripped up preserved lands, private lands, some incredibly valuable ecosystems, and done irreparable harm.”

Politically, the issue was a wash in the 2021 governor’s race. As an assemblyman in 2014, Ciattarelli opposed the PennEast plan, which would have gone through parts of his own Central Jersey legislative district.

New Jersey Spotlight first reported last week that PennEast had dropped pans to use state lands.

This story was updated at 3:22 p.m. with a quote from Gov. Murphy.

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