Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals granted a portion of a petition filed by Genova Burns on behalf of its client, the Township of Bordentown, finding that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) incorrectly denied Bordentown’s administrative appeal. Bordentown, along with Chesterfield Township and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance have opposed an natural gas compressor station proposed by Transcontinental Pipeline Company (Transco) to service a proposed pipeline by New Jersey Natural Gas. To construct the compressor station, Transco was required to obtain a series of permits from both federal and state agencies. The construction of the compressor station requires development on dedicated open space owned by Bordentown.
NJDEP had granted several permits to Transco and Bordentown requested an adjudicatory hearing, an internal agency review process. NJDEP refused to permit an adjudicatory hearing, ruling that federal law granted the federal courts of appeals exclusive jurisdiction to hear challenges to NJDEP’s permits relating to an interstate pipeline. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, concluding that federal law does not supplant the agency’s normal administrative review process. The case will now return to NJDEP for a determination on Bordentown’s request for an adjudicatory hearing and, if granted, a hearing before an administrative law judge on the propriety of the permits.
To read a recent New Jersey Law Journal article on the matter, please click here.