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Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corp. v. Hackensack Meadowlands Dev. Comm'n

Citation: 2 ELR 20495
No. No. 71-2064, 464 F.2d 1358/4 ERC 1441/(3d Cir., 08/02/1972)

New Jersey state agency's plans for controlled development of its Meadowlands are enjoined as in conflict with the right of a federally certified natural gas company to expand its storage facilities on land acquired by it prior to enactment of the state land use plan. States may place reasonable restraints on interstate commerce, including zoning ordinances, but may not do so if the necessary effect is to put a substantial burden on interstate commerce. Interstate transmission and sale of natural gas is within the regulatory ambit of the Commerce Clause. On the facts of this case, complete interdiction of proposed expansion of natural gas facility is unreasonable despite alleged "substantial public benefit" from implementing agency's master land use plan. Evidence in record indicates that agency's position was accorded serious consideration. However, contemplated future higher land uses do not outweigh the public's need for an adequate supply of natural gas, especially where the only reasonably definitive land use plan is development of a sports complex. The state agency itself has promulgated no set of standards applicable to this type of industrial facility, and district court's conclusion that facility meets current building and safety standards is not clearly erroneous. NEPA mandates consideration of environmental factors, but should not be applied retroactively. Compliance with NEPA before the promulgation of any guidelines as to the meaning of Section 102 (2) (C) does not invalidate an FPC certification issued at that time without an impact statement. On facts of this case, FPC approval of the facility was not type of action which "most reasonable men would conclude without any guidelines" to have required an impact statement.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee
David B. Schackner
Fox, Schackner, Neagle & Mastrangelo
810 Broad St.
Newark, N.J. 07102

Counsel for Defendant-Appellant
Sherman T. Brewer, Jr. Deputy Atty. General
Statehouse Annex, Room 223
Trenton, N.J. 08625