Nuns’ Religious Freedom Lawsuit Against Pipeline Held To Be Impermissible Collateral Attack On FERC Approval
In an opinion issued last month, the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, an order of Roman Catholic nuns, against the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company (“Transco”) under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (“RFRA”). Adorers of the Blood of Christ U.S. Province v. Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co LLC, 53 F.4th 56 (3d Cir. 2022). The Adorers’ sought in their lawsuit money damages from Transco as a result of the completed construction of a pipeline across the Adorers’ property, which they argued amounted to a substantial burden on their exercise of religion under RFRA. The Third Circuit upheld the dismissal of the suit, holding that the Adorers’ lawsuit was “inescapably intertwined” with an earlier approval issued for the pipeline by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and therefore amounted to an impermissible collateral attack on that approval that was precluded by the Natural Gas Act.
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