U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Delaware’s Authority to Deny Permit for Crown Landing LNG

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that Delaware can regulate structures of an “extraordinary character” extending from New Jersey’s shore into Delaware’s territory under the terms of a 1905 compact between the two states. In affirming the findings of the Court-appointed special master, the Court upheld Delaware’s authority to refuse a permit to Crown Landing under the state’s Coastal Zone Act. Justice Ginsburg, writing for the majority in the 6-2 decision, said that “[i]n refusing to permit construction of the proposed Crown Landing LNG unloading terminal, Delaware acted within the scope of its governing authority to prohibit unreasonable uses of the river and soil within [its territory].”

Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Alito, dissented, stating that “the Court owes New Jersey — not to mention an energy-starved Nation — something more than its casual and unsupported statements that the wharf possesses ‘extraordinary character’ and ‘goes well beyond the ordinary or usual.'”

Justice Stevens concurred in the result but wrote separately because he found Delaware’s authority to deny Crown Landing’s permit was grounded in its police powers. Justice Breyer took no part in the consideration of the case because of his investments in BP.

Reuters provides additional coverage of the decision.

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