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PennEast to continue land surveys after trespassing lawsuit dismissed

A New Jersey Superior Court judge rejected a lawsuit aimedat preventing the PennEastnatural gas pipeline from being built.

The July 7 decision by Judge Margaret Goodzeit in HunterdonCounty dismissed a complaint filed by New Jersey landowners who claimed thatproject employees trespassed while conducting surveys. The plaintiffs,Homeowners Against Land Taking-PennEast Inc., or HALT, joined the New JerseyConservation Foundation and protesting individuals.

HALT and the other plaintiffs alleged that PennEastsurveyors were denied permission to enter to survey their properties. PennEastadmitted to some "accidental incursions" but said these instanceswere not trespasses — and, further, if trespasses occurred, they were isolatedinstances. It noted that it needed certain property information for the projectto comply with the environmental report requirements detailed in the NaturalGas Act.

"We're pleased the court agreed with PennEast anddismissed the claims," Pat Kornick, a spokesperson for PennEast, said in astatement. "The actions and false claims by HALT leading to the July 7dismissal by the New Jersey Superior Court are symptomatic of other actionstaken by similar extreme groups," Kornick said, naming the andthe Eastern Environmental LawCenter.

The court also dismissed the plaintiffs' nuisance claimsagainst PennEast.

The pipeline project, estimated to cost about $1 billion,would deliver gas from Marcellus Shale producers to eastern Pennsylvania andNew Jersey. PennEast said it will resume surveys for the118-mile-long pipeline.

PennEast is a partnership formed by AGL Resources Inc., Spectra Energy Partners LP, NJR Pipeline Co., PSEG PowerLLC, SJI Midstream and UGI Corp.subsidiary UGI Energy Services.(CP15-558)