Description: Action brought by religious order of Roman Catholic women that owned property in Pennsylvania to challenge FERC's authorization of natural gas pipeline that would pass through the property.
Adorers of the Blood of Christ, United States Province v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/19/2019 Order List Download Petition for writ of certiorari denied. Supreme Court Declined to Consider Religious Order’s Pipeline Challenge. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari in which a religious order of Roman Catholic women sought review of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision affirming dismissal of their Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)-based challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of a natural gas pipeline that would run through land in Pennsylvania owned by the order. 10/26/2018 Petition for Writ of Certiorari Download Petition for writ of certiorari filed. Citing Threat to Religious Liberty, Religious Order Sought Supreme Court Review of Pipeline Approval. A vowed order of Roman Catholic women and individual members of the order filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking review of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision affirming dismissal of their Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)-based challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) approval of a natural gas pipeline that would run through land in Pennsylvania owned by the order. The petition said the order and its members “agree with Pope Francis’s teachings that the threat of climate change, caused in large part by the intensive use of fossil fuels, represents a principal challenge facing humanity.” The petitioners asserted that the pipeline’s operation on their property “violates their deeply-held religious beliefs and conscience by forcing them to use their own land to facilitate a fossil fuel pipeline that will harm the earth.” They contended that the Third Circuit’s decision—which concluded that RFRA did not abrogate or create an exception to the Natural Gas Act’s administrative requirements and jurisdictional provisions—was not consistent with Supreme Court precedent applying RFRA. Their petition presented the questions of whether a person must “intervene in an application and follow the required administrative procedures for objecting to proposed agency action in order to prevent the government agency from later burdening her religious exercise in violation of RFRA” and whether circuit court review of an administrative agency’s order satisfies “RFRA’s guarantee to assert a claim in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the government.” The petitioners argued that requiring adherence to administrative review requirements foreclosed statutory rights guaranteed by RFRA and would have a significant adverse impact on protection of religious liberties.
Adorers of the Blood of Christ v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/25/2018 Opinion Download Dismissal affirmed. Third Circuit Affirmed Dismissal of Religious Order’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act Challenge to Natural Gas Pipeline. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed in district court in Pennsylvania by a vowed religious order of Roman Catholic women who challenged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) authorization of a 200-mile natural gas pipeline that would cross the order’s property. The religious order—Adorers of the Blood of Christ (Adorers)—contended that use of their land as part of the project violated their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Third Circuit noted that the Adorers “followed an encyclical letter titled ‘Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for our Common Home,’ written by Pope Francis” that “provides a comprehensive theological basis that, as an act of religious belief and practice, members of the Roman Catholic Church must preserve the Earth as God’s creation.” The encyclical specifically mentioned climate change as a global problem. In their lawsuit, the Adorers alleged that natural gas development would contribute to global warming in a manner contrary to their religious beliefs. The Third Circuit found that the district court did not err in concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the Adorers had failed to raised their claim using the procedures required by the Natural Gas Act for challenges to FERC actions.