Federal appeals court: PennEast Pipeline can't use eminent domain to seize NJ properties


New Jersey notched a win in its battle to put the brakes on a pipeline project.

A federal appeals court said PennEast Pipeline can't use eminent domain to seize state-owned properties.

That reverses a district court decision that gave the company access to the land.

New Jersey's Sierra Club says about half of the properties are preserved as open space and farmland.

PennEast wants to build a 120-mile natural gas pipeline from Luzerne County in Pennsylvania to Mercer County in New Jersey.

PennEast had targeted 40 parcels of land that have been preserved for recreation, conservation, or agricultural use.

"This is something that really has implications for all the residents of this region because the pipeline is a threat to our drinking water supply, the pipeline is a threat to our public preserved open spaces," said Tom Gilbert, New Jersey conservation Foundation's campaign director.

If the ruling stands it means PennEast will need to find another route for the 116-mile pipeline to deliver natural gas.

The company says it's reviewing the latest court decision.

"PennEast will review the Third Circuit's opinion in detail and determine the next steps," the company said in a statement.

"PennEast remains committed to moving forward with the PennEast Pipeline Project to provide New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents and businesses increased access to clean, affordable natural gas."