(Adds BP comment, background)
By Chris Baltimore
WASHINGTON, March 31 The U.S. Supreme Court on
Monday sided with Delaware and ruled the state can block a $750
million liquefied natural gas plant that BP Plc (BP.L) wants to
build on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.
The high court's 6-2 ruling is a setback to BP's plan to
build the Crown Landing terminal to offload super-cooled
liquefied natural gas from tanker ships. BP was not a party to
At issue is a 2,000-foot-long pier extending into the river
as part of the planned Crown Landing LNG terminal on the New
Jersey shore near Logan Township.
But a land grant from England dating back to the colonial
era gave Delaware control over parts of the river beyond the
midway point between the two state's shorelines.
In the court's majority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg rejected New Jersey's claim of exclusive jurisdiction
over any project that begins on the state's shore and extends
into the river.
She said the facility's pier would extend into Delaware.
"We confirm Delaware's authority to deny permission for the
Crown Landing terminal," Ginsburg wrote.
BP wanted to build a terminal big enough to handle about
1.2 billion cubic feet a day, enough natural gas to supply the
daily needs of about 5 million homes. The U.S. Northeast relies
heavily on clean-burning natural gas as a heating fuel.
"We will continue to explore other options and anticipate
that the project will move forward and eventually be built here
on the Delaware River," said Tom Mueller, government and public
affairs director for BP.
The ruling upheld a special master's key finding that
Delaware has authority to approve or disapprove the proposed
terminal, along with New Jersey, to the extent the project
extends into Delaware's territory.
In summarizing the ruling from the bench, Ginsburg said
Delaware has overlapping authority with New Jersey's to accept,
reject or regulate structures extending off the shore of New
Jersey and into Delaware's territory.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito dissented.
(Additional reporting by James Vicini in Washington; Editing
by Christian Wiessner)