Elizabeth U. Witmer

Elizabeth U. Witmer
Experience

Interstate Pipeline Development

Elizabeth has significant experience assisting with natural gas transmission pipelines and the environmental, public policy and public opinion issues that arise from these projects. She has also represented clients in infrastructure development, from pipelines to electric generation facilities.

  • Currently lead outside counsel for $650 million 124-mile greenfield interstate pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York. 
  • Currently lead Pennsylvania counsel in a $2.65 billion, 123-mile natural gas interstate pipeline expansion project. 
  • Currently lead counsel for acquisition of rights of way for a pipeline looping project in Delaware and Pennsylvania. 
  • Lead Pennsylvania counsel for a new interstate pipeline lateral to an electricity generating facility. 
  • Allegheny Def. Project v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm’n, 964 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2020) (en banc): Denying challenges to the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for an interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Sec’y Pennsylvania Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., 833 F.3d 360 (3d Cir. 2016): Denying challenges to issuance of Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm’n, 857 F.3d 388 (D.C. Cir. 2017): Denying challenges to issuance of Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Adorers of the Blood of Christ v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm’n, 897 F.3d 187 (3d Cir. 2018) (Argued): Affirming dismissal of challenges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Sec’y Pennsylvania Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., 903 F.3d 65 (3d Cir. 2018): Denying challenges to issuance of Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Transcon. Gas Pipe Line Co., LLC v. Permanent Easements for 2.14 Acres, 907 F.3d 725 (3d Cir. 2018): Affirming entry of preliminary injunction awarding immediate possession of rights of way for interstate natural gas pipeline project.

Eminent Domain/Condemnation

Exercising eminent domain and condemning property requires a careful balance of demonstrating the public benefit of taking private land and ensuring due process and fair compensation for the property. Elizabeth has extensive experience handling these and other concerns when her clients need to use these proceedings to move their projects forward.

  • Lead counsel in more than 150 federal condemnation actions in district courts in Pennsylvania and New York. 
  • Obtained a favorable jury award for a natural gas pipeline client in an eminent domain case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 
  • Filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in Kelo v. City of New London involving the question of the right to condemn for economic development. 
  • Adorers of the Blood of Christ v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm’n, 897 F.3d 187 (3d Cir. 2018) (Argued): Affirming dismissal of challenges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Transcon. Gas Pipe Line Co., LLC v. Permanent Easements for 2.14 Acres, 907 F.3d 725 (3d Cir. 2018): Affirming entry of preliminary injunction awarding immediate possession of rights of way for interstate natural gas pipeline project.

Appellate Litigation 

Elizabeth understands that building consensus around development is sometimes challenging. When government agencies make decisions that are adverse to her clients, she is experienced at using the appeals process, including litigating through filings and in court, to help them continue to press for approvals for their projects.

  • Successful decision in 2016 easement case before Pennsylvania Superior Court. 
  • Appeals in Second and Third Circuit Court of Appeals of 401 water quality certifications issued to interstate natural gas pipeline companies (pending). 
  • Successful in defense of appeals of FERC Certificate Orders to interstate natural gas pipeline companies in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; other appeals pending in D.C. Circuit and Second and Third Circuit Courts of Appeals. 
  • Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Sec’y Pennsylvania Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., 833 F.3d 360 (3d Cir. 2016): Denying challenges to issuance of Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm’n, 857 F.3d 388 (D.C. Cir. 2017): Denying challenges to issuance of Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Adorers of the Blood of Christ v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm’n, 897 F.3d 187 (3d Cir. 2018) (Argued): Affirming dismissal of challenges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Sec’y Pennsylvania Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., 903 F.3d 65 (3d Cir. 2018): Denying challenges to issuance of Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Transcon. Gas Pipe Line Co., LLC v. Permanent Easements for 2.14 Acres, 907 F.3d 725 (3d Cir. 2018): Affirming entry of preliminary injunction awarding immediate possession of rights of way for interstate natural gas pipeline project.
  • Transcon. Gas Pipe Line Co., LLC v. Permanent Easement for 2.59 Acres, -- Fed. Appx. -- 2020 WL 6306019 (3d Cir. 2020): Affirming awards of sanctions against condemnee and decision to vacate arbitration award in condemnation for rights of way for an interstate natural gas pipeline.

Land Use and Zoning

Elizabeth's experience also extends beyond the energy industry to include zoning and land use work for a variety of types of development.

  • Obtained all zoning and land use approvals necessary for the $20 million redevelopment of a low income housing project. 
  • Development of many telecommunications facilities.
  • Rezoning and land development of landfill sites.