Pipeline cases await more court decisions


The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear another pipeline legal fight this week, days after it came out with a ruling in support of a 600-mile natural gas line under the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.

On Thursday, the justices will consider whether to grant or deny review or seek input of the Justice Department on a pipeline case that involves eminent domain and the constitutional rights of states.

If the justices take it and reaffirm a lower court’s ruling, that could, in effect, give states veto power to block natural gas pipelines according to a report by Aixos.

The Supreme Court is also expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to grant the Trump administration’s request last week to stay a lower court’s ruling on the still-unresolved Keystone project, which also resulted in permitting delays of numerous other pipelines.

“What the industry is struggling with at this point is whether all of these projects are even needed anymore,” said Gary Kruse, managing director of research at LawIQ.

Other than seasonal shortages in the Northeast, “most of the rest of the country is probably properly supplied with pipeline capacity right now,” Kruse said.

The time it takes to develop pipelines has been increasing over the last decade largely in response to more opposition, which in turn increases projects’ costs, according to an analysis by energy analytics firm LawIQ.

Before 2013, it took a little under 2.5 years from application filing to construction completion.

Since 2013, that average has increased to nearly three years.

However, for the two pipeline projects at issue in last week’s Supreme Court case — the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline — both are already taking longer than four years and still have outstanding permits despite the court action. (The Keystone review has been going on for 12 years!)

This data is only for pipelines that haven’t been canceled. If a permit is denied, a project tends to be shelved eventually, Washington Analysis’ Rains said.

Source: Axios