The state Court of Appeals has ruled that National Fuel has the power to take land for a planned natural gas pipeline despite the state’s refusal to approve the project.
The attorney for an affected landowner who has fought the utility in court said Tuesday that he hopes to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state’s highest court ruled 4-2 on June 25 in favor of the utility, which had won approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the Northern Access pipeline. It would carry natural gas from northern Pennsylvania through Allegany, Cattaraugus and Erie counties and link with an existing Canadian pipeline beneath the Niagara River.
National Fuel was challenged by Theresa Schueckler, whose late husband, Joseph, refused to sell National Fuel a 50-foot-wide strip of his 200 acres in Clarksville, Allegany County.
National Fuel took the Schuecklers to court in 2017, and a State Supreme Court justice in Allegany County granted National Fuel the power to seize the land under the state’s eminent domain law.
The Schuecklers appealed and in November 2018 won by a 3-2 vote in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. But the utility took the case to the Court of Appeals, which decided that the original judge in Allegany County got it right.
“The ruling by the New York Court of Appeals is a good outcome for the Northern Access Project, and is consistent with long-standing principles concerning the use of eminent domain for federally-regulated gas pipeline projects,” National Fuel spokeswoman Karen Merkel said.