JERSEY CITY - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday officially denied Jersey City's request that the federal agency reconsider its decision to allow a controversial natural gas pipeline to be built through the city.
The city filed an appeal asking FERC to reconsider its decision after the agency approved the pipeline project in May. While Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy and city attorneys have said they are willing to fight FERC's decision in court, procedurally the city was required to file a motion for reconsideration before challenging the decision in court.
Since filing its appeal in the spring, the city has been awaiting word from FERC regarding whether or not it would consider the appeal.
Last week, the city received word that its appeal would be discussed at FERC's regular commissioners' meeting in Washington, D.C.
Although the city's concerns regarding the natural gas pipeline currently being built through Jersey City and other municipalities, including Bayonne and Linden, was on the Oct. 18 FERC agenda, the commissioners declined to reverse their earlier decision to allow the pipeline to be built.
Healy said the city will now begin the process of filing a lawsuit.
"While we are disappointed with FERC's decision, it is one we expected and we could not move forward until the commission either approved or denied our request for a rehearing," said Healy. "We are committed to bringing this matter before a federal circuit court, as we believe there are legitimate constitutional and abuse of discretion issues in the pipeline approval process."
In addition to a lawsuit from the city, the Jersey City grassroots membership-based organization No Gas Pipeline is also expected to file a lawsuit of its own.
"We now will see about filing a suit as an appeal in federal court," said Dale Hardman, founder of No Gas Pipeline. "The federal court has the power to overturn a FERC ruling."
Spectra Energy has already broken ground for its pipeline in Bayonne. A groundbreaking for the project in Jersey City is imminent. - E. Assata Wright