NJ Takes Transco To Court Over MarketLink
New Jersey and the state's Department of Law and Public Safety
petitioned the D.C. appellate court last week to review two FERC
decisions giving Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line the green light to
build a hotly-disputed pipeline expansion through the northern part
of the state.
In the petition, the state mounted a challenge to the
Commission's April ruling granting a long-awaited certificate to
Transco for its MarketLink project, which would expand the
pipeline's existing system in Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey
by 700 MMcf/d.
The state did not ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit to enjoin Transco from building the project while the case
is being considered. "It's an option that's open, but it is not one
the state has decided to pursue at the moment," said Dana
Contratto, a partner in the D.C. law firm of Crowell & Moring
LLP, which has been retained by New Jersey.
He noted a number of other petitions for review may be filed
with the court today (Monday), which is the deadline. Approximately
112 parties (excluding landowners) were involved in the proceedings
at FERC, Contratto estimated.
"Of course, we're disappointed" by the appeal, said Transco
spokesman Chris Stockton. "We feel like we worked very had to
address the state's issues." He doubted New Jersey's petition would
hold up the MarketLink project. "Right now we're in the process of
turning precedent agreements into service agreements."
The appeal was filed at the urging of state Gov. Christine Todd
Whitman, who "was very much involved in the proceedings" at FERC.
The proposed MarketLink pipeline expansion has been fiercely
contested by landowners in both the Garden State and Pennsylvania,
by New Jersey lawmakers and by Whitman.
New Jersey announced it intended to challenge FERC's decision
awarding the certificate within days after it was issued in late
April. Whitman threatened all along to take the Commission to court
if it gave the go-ahead for the MarketLink expansion. She even
appealed to President Clinton for help last year.
The state won a reprieve last December when FERC approved
MarketLink, but withheld the certificate until Transco could
produce evidence of further market support for the project. New
Jersey also is asking the court to review the December decision.
A spokesman for the state's Attorney General Office said New
Jersey intends to argue that FERC failed in its legal obligation to
properly address the safety of the proposed expansion, failed to
protect New Jersey's environment and failed to properly consider a
proposed alternative to the MarketLink expansion.
The certificate granted to Transco in April was conditioned on
the pipeline first submitting executed contracts for all of the
expansion capacity, ridding its project contracts of market-out
clauses and showing that its contracts will not hinge on the
availability of upstream transportation on the proposed
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