House Passes Malinowski, Watson Coleman Bill to Protect NJ Landowners Facing Eminent Domain for Pipeline Construction

September 24, 2020
Press Release
Part of Comprehensive Clean Energy Legislative Package

(Washington, DC) Today, the House passed the Clean Energy Jobs and Innovation Act (CEJIA), which includes key provisions of a bill led by Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-7) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) to protect property owners facing eminent domain for the construction of pipelines, such as PennEast. 

The Representatives’ bill, the Fairness for Landowners Facing Eminent Domain Act, amends the Natural Gas Act to prevent pipeline companies from using eminent domain to take land from private citizens and to alter it, for example by cutting down trees, until they have obtained all of the federal and state permits necessary for the construction and operation of a pipeline project. It also suspends eminent domain authority for companies that request material amendments to their existing certificates (e.g., to change the route of a pipeline).

“My constituents in Hunterdon County should not have to live in fear that their land will be taken and irrevocably altered to make way for a pipeline project that may never be built,” said Representative Malinowski. “I am proud that the House passed our bill today, and I will continue to fight for landowners in my district who deserve the fairness and peace of mind our bill provides.” 

“Preserving our beautiful green spaces is a difficult task in the most densely populated state in the country. The passage of this bill gives both communities and individual homeowners the power to fight back against companies’ abusive use of eminent domain,” said Representative Watson Coleman. “I’m grateful for Congressman Malinowski’s leadership and persistence on this issue and look forward to continuing our fight to protect our state’s natural beauty”

Representative Malinowski has been an outspoken advocate for property owners whose land is vulnerable to eminent domain to build the proposed PennEast pipeline. He has been in regular meetings with affected property owners, urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to respect the rights of these property owners, and continues to push for policies at the federal level that enhance protections for those facing land seizures under unfair circumstances.