Elizabeth U. Witmer

Elizabeth Witmer advises public and private utilities, natural gas companies and commercial developers about interstate pipeline development, eminent domain/condemnations, land use matters and appellate litigation. Through her more than 25 years of service to these clients, Elizabeth has become well versed in the federal and state regulations they face in order to secure the approvals they need to complete their projects, particularly in the energy industry. Elizabeth draws on this knowledge to help her clients develop an efficient framework for securing federal, state and local permissions, including interpreting state and local preemption issues, identifying which permits they need, developing initial applications and defending these applications all the way to the appellate level if needed. 

The depth of Elizabeth’s experience is also reflected in her position as vice chair of the Real Estate, Environmental and Energy Practice. This leadership role in the firm contributes to her sensitivity to her clients’ need for predictability in their businesses, particularly around time frames and budgets for projects. 

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. 

Select representations include:

  • 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. 

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.

Select representations include:  

  • 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. 

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. 

Select representations include:

  • 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. 

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. 

Select representations include:

  • 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.

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