Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by TransCanada’s Columbia Gas Transmission unit that wants to build a natural gas pipeline through three miles of the Maryland countryside state officials have rejected.
Columbia Gas filed the suit last month in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Kallanish Energy learns. It seeks a preliminary injunction to give the company immediate access to property to drill a pipeline, while requesting the “award of just compensation and damages,” The Baltimore Sun newspaper reported.
Suit filed after state turned down easement
The suit was filed after the Maryland Board of Public Works in January rejected a request to grant an easement for a segment of the line that would carry natural gas through three miles of western Maryland – a project environmentalists and neighbors have fought for years.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and the three-member public works board’s two Democrats agreed the project would be bad for the environment. More than 60 members of the Maryland General Assembly signed a letter opposing the granting of an easement.
The pipeline would flow natural gas from Pennsylvania to a proposed insulation plant in West Virginia. Its length in Maryland would be 3 miles – roughly 15,800 feet.
Ferc granted certificate of public convenience
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted Columbia Gas a “certificate of public convenience and necessity,” which “nominally gives it the power to condemn property (eminent domain),” Frosh said, in a statement.
But the Democratic attorney general argued in the motion to dismiss the “11th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents a federal court from ordering the state to grant the easement.”
“We are vigorously defending Maryland’s right to refuse a pipeline company’s efforts to drill under state land,” Frosh said, in a statement.
The filing also stated that the amendment grants Maryland and other states immunity from such suits. “Columbia is a business organized under the laws of Delaware pursuing litigation against the state of Maryland,” the filing states, The Sun reported. “In other words, the 11th Amendment bars federal jurisdiction over suits by any private citizen against a state.”
TransCanada has said the project “is critical to the continued development and economic prosperity of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle and the surrounding region
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