WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – The nonprofit organization tasked with protecting and restoring the Delaware River is suing a federal agency that governs natural gas pipeline projects over an alleged structural bias in the agency's review and approval process.
Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) and DRN's Executive Director Maya K. van Rossum filed a lawsuit March 2 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Norman C. Bay, Tony Clark, Colette Honorable and Cheryl A. LaFleur, in their official capacities of commissioners, alleging violation of the plaintiffs' due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.
The suit alleges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's natural gas pipeline program, and the PennEast Pipeline Project specifically, contains a biased funding mechanism, in that the commission's entire natural gas pipeline program is allegedly funded by the private companies that it regulates.
As a result, the commission has allegedly approved 100 percent of the pipeline projects it has voted on, regardless of legitimate opposition to or justifiable need for the projects.
Furthermore, the commission allegedly provides natural gas pipeline project applicants with the power of eminent domain when the project is approved, and the commission has the authority to preempt any state and local regulations regarding siting, construction, and operation of commission jurisdictional natural gas facilities.
The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, costs and attorney fees. They are represented by attorney Aaron Stemplewicz of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and by attorney Jordan B. Yeager of Curtin & Heefner in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Case number 1:16-cv-00416-TSC