The US Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments regarding the New Jersey-Delaware LNG terminal dispute previously covered at the blog here. The dispute centers on a proposed LNG terminal that energy giant BP wants to build on the Jersey side of the river.
Delaware has refused to authorize the construction of a 2,000-foot-long pier, which would be built on part of the river bottom that belongs to Delaware. Once again, here’s the map:
New Jersey: Yes, Delaware owns the land. But says a century-old agreement allows each state to control piers on its side of the river. A pier on the New Jersey side that can’t stretch onto Delaware territory to reach the main shipping channel is worthless, that’s where the ships are.
Delaware: Decisions on what to build on Delaware land belong to Delaware. Boundaries matter. And on a practical level, Delaware has only twice in 160 years denied permission to build a pier on the Jersey side of the river and both instances involved LNG facilities, for which the state has safety concerns.
A court-appointed special master concluded earlier this year that
Delaware has the authority to block the pier. Justice Stephen Breyer is not taking part in the case because he owns BP stock, raising the potential of a 4 to 4. A tie often means that a lower court ruling is upheld, but disputes between states are decided by the Supreme
Court in the first instance. What happens in the case of the tie? There’s no precedent, and in this case, we may just find out.