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In re PennEast Pipeline Co., LLC

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20150
Nos. 19-1191 thru 19-1232, (3d Cir., 09/10/2019)

The Third Circuit vacated a district court decision granting a gas pipeline company's orders of condemnation and preliminary injunctive relief for immediate access to properties along the pipeline route that had been preserved by New Jersey for recreational, conservation, and agricultural use. New Jersey asserted that it was entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, arguing that the federal government could not delegate its exemption from state sovereign immunity to private parties like the pipeline company, and that even if it could, the Natural Gas Act (NGA) was not a clear and unequivocal delegation of that exemption. The appellate court found that nothing in the NGA indicated that Congress intended to delegate the government's exemption from sovereign immunity, and thus that the NGA did not constitute a delegation to private parties of the federal government's exemption from Eleventh Amendment immunity. It therefore vacated the district court decision insofar as it condemned New Jersey's property interests, and granted preliminary injunctive relief with respect to those interests.