The Supreme Court on Nov. 27 will hear oral arguments from attorneys for New Jersey and Delaware over a jurisdictional dispute involving a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal along the Delaware River in Logan Township, NJ.

In mid-April, a special master to the high court ruled that the state of Delaware has the authority to block the construction of an off-loading pier that would serve the LNG terminal being proposed by BP's Crown Landing LLC on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River (see NGI, April 23). The off-loading pier would extend from the Jersey shore into the river, where the boundary between the two states has become blurred over the years.

Special Master Ralph I. Lancaster concluded that "Delaware, as the sovereign, retains...jurisdiction to exercise its full complement of police powers to regulate...improvements extending from New Jersey's shore" into the Delaware River, a finding that could put an end to the BP project. He further said New Jersey's authority to exercise jurisdiction over improvements is "limited" by a 1905 compact between the two states. The special master's decision is now subject to Supreme Court review.

In August 2005, New Jersey petitioned the high court to settle the ongoing boundary dispute with the state of Delaware that was reignited when Crown Landing proposed building the off-loading pier along the Delaware River (see NGI, Aug. 8, 2005).

New Jersey's action was fueled by Delaware's assertion of regulatory jurisdiction over the construction of the proposed pier, which it opposes. By claiming it had jurisdiction over a portion of New Jersey's side of the river, Delaware in February 2005 denied a permit to Crown Landing LLC for the construction of the proposed pier (see NGI, Feb. 7, 2005). It said the proposed LNG off-loading pier that would extend into the Delaware River was prohibited by Delaware's coastal zone laws.

The project would be located on the New Jersey shoreline of the Delaware River within the so-called "twelve-mile circle," where Delaware's border extends to the low-water mark on the New Jersey shore.

The pier would be used to transfer LNG from tankers in the Delaware River to storage and regasification facilities in New Jersey. The proposed import terminal would have a sendout capability of 1.2 Bcf/d.

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