Setback for Spectra Pipeline Opponents as State Judge Throws Out Lawsuit

Categories: Environmental

GeorgePingeonSpectra.jpg
Eric Walton
Opponents have tried both legal challenges to the pipeline and less legal challenges, like this protester who climbed onto digging equipment to halt construction last autumn.
The juggernaut that is the NJ-NY Expansion Project, familiarly known as the Spectra Pipeline, has crushed another obstacle, bringing the operation of a 30-inch-diameter transmission line full of highly-pressurized explosive natural gas in the heart of the West Village one step closer to reality.

Opponents of the pipeline had challenged the legality of the pipeline in state court, alleging that the trustees of the Hudson River Park Trust broke the law when they allowed the Spectra energy giant to run the pipeline through the park.

But in a recently released ruling, New York Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower threw the suit out, finding that whatever state laws might be involved are trumped by the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve pipeline construction.

"FERC has exclusive jurisdiction to determine the location of interstate natural gas pipelines.... and any challenges to the right of way approval by the trust must be brought in the federal court of appeals.

Federal law preempts state and local agency environmental review requirements for proposed interstate pipelines."

In short, the judge ruled, if anyone wants to raise a legal challenge to the pipeline construction, they have to do it in federal court.

Fortunately for pipeline opponents, they're doing that too, appealing FERC's decision in Federal Appeals Court in Washington DC. That suit is being brought by the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, and Jersey City.

Here's Judge Rakower's ruling dismissing the state case:

HRPT Decision by nicholasjpinto

Previous Coverage:

[npinto@villagevoice.com] [@macfathom]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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