The Democrats have a hold on Washington and Joe Biden’s team is firmly planted in the White House, so you would think that big government is having their day in D.C…
But the highest court in the land continues to spoil the day for the left with one ruling after another.
President Biden’s administration has put forth a number of rules that will hurt major industry. He shut down a crucial pipeline, and also prevented the leasing of federal land for drilling oil and gas. You would think that progressive environmentalists were winning across the land. But then the Supreme Court steps in and up. The court just ruled in favor of an energy company and this has caused outrage among many on the left.
According to the Washington Examiner, the court ruled 5 to 4 that the developers of the $1 billion natural gas pipeline with PennEast can take the New Jersey land to build their project. This pipeline will move as much as 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from Northern PA to New Jersey. This will be a great advancement for the Northeast where prices for energy are sky high.
This decision is astounding because both conservative and liberal judges voted together on this ruling. It was two of Trump’s appointees, along with Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan, that dissented. Therefore now a private company will be able to use state land to build this pipeline. And it levels a blow to environmentalist activists who believe the government should be able to interfere with private energy companies.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized the project and, according to the Natural Gas Act, that approval allowed the company to use federal eminent domain power to take possession of the land.
PennEast said it was able to negotiate rights of way with most property owners, but went to court in its bid to take dozens of parcels of land–with compensation–in which the state of New Jersey holds a property interest.
New Jersey objected to the pipeline on sovereign-immunity grounds, arguing that a private party like PennEast can’t pull a sovereign state into federal court against that state’s wishes.
But the Supreme Court rejected that argument. “Although nonconsenting States are generally immune from suit, they surrendered their immunity from the exercise of the federal eminent domain power when they ratified the Constitution,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority.
The federal government, Justice Roberts said, could delegate that power to private parties who “can initiate condemnation proceedings, including against state-owned property.” The court said such delegations have been present–and lawful–throughout the nation’s history.
Joining the chief justice were two fellow conservatives, Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, and two liberals, Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the lead dissenting opinion, she was joined by two other conservatives, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, as well as Justice Elena Kagan, a member of the court’s liberal wing.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the state was disappointed in the ruling but would continue fighting the pipeline’s construction, “which is unnecessary and would be destructive to New Jersey lands,” through other ongoing legal challenges.
People are obviously going to be asking if this ruling gives other energy producers the power to build much-needed pipelines and projects. Certainly people are thinking about the Keystone XL Pipeline, which shut down with the stroke of President Biden’s pen.
All eyes, those of progressive environmentalists and those against big government, will be watching the moves that are made with big industry in the weeks to come.