Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

What’s Happening With the Environmental Rights Amendment?

A decision rendered last month by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reinterpreted the commonwealth’s obligations under Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, known as the Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA). The Supreme Court sided with the appellant, Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF), in PEDF v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvani a, 10 MAP 2015, and held … Continue Reading

Air Source Aggregation: Compression Station and Natural Gas Wells are Not A Single Source in Pennsylvania Merely Because they are Owned by Corporate Affiliates

On Friday, June 2, a Pennsylvania intermediate appellate court held that air emissions from a natural gas gathering system compression station and a natural gas well pad served by that gathering system could not be aggregated for purposes of air emissions permitting because they were owned by different corporations, albeit corporate affiliates.  National Fuel Gas … Continue Reading

Overview of Coal Ash Disposal, Regulation and Beneficial Use

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the largest generator of coal ash in the United States. Pennsylvania is home to roughly 100 coal ash disposal facilities, three of which have been classified as “high hazard” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Throughout the country, numerous electric generating facilities … Continue Reading

Environmental Cases in the Pa. Appellate Courts During 2016

This month, my column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly surveys the decisions in the Pennsylvania appellate courts during 2016 addressing environmental issues.  The cases cover the Environmental Rights Amendment, impacts of oil and gas drilling, stormwater, land contamination, air pollution, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, solid waste management, and enforcement procedure.  Read Environmental Cases … Continue Reading

EPA’s Amendments to the Standards for Hazardous Waste Generators

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its amendments to, and reorganization of, the regulations governing generators of hazardous waste, 81 Fed. Reg. 85,732 (Nov. 28). These rules govern the hundreds of thousands of enterprises nationally that produce wastes characterized or listed as hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. … Continue Reading

Buckle Up for a Wild Ride: Environmental Policy in the Trump Administration

Millions of Americans are coming to grips with the broad social and political ramifications of Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory in last Tuesday’s presidential election. And while the president-elect’s policy pronouncements to date have been short on detail, one thing is clear: those concerned with environmental protection and climate change had better buckle up for … Continue Reading

GT Philadelphia at the PA Environmental Law Forum

Recently, lawyers from Philadelphia’s Environmental Practice Group attended the Pennsylvania Environmental Law Forum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Organized by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the annual Forum includes educational presentations by experienced practitioners along with networking events. Jillian Kirn gave a presentation on cooling water intake structures commonly used by industrial facilities, such as power plants, and the … Continue Reading

Environmental Policy as Part of Integrated Overall Policy

Environmental quality is important, but it is just one set of the objectives of public policy.  Is it possible to think about the incentives set by environmental regulatory decisions and the outcomes they induce as part of a more integrated policy? Perhaps not. Consider Michigan v. EPA, No. 14-46 (U.S. Nov. 25, 2014).  Last month, … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Invalidates PUC Review of Local Natural Gas Regulation

In February 2012, Pennsylvania adopted comprehensive revisions to its Oil and Gas Act known as “Act 13.”  Among the changes was an expanded preemption of local regulation of oil and gas activities. Prior law prohibited municipalities from regulating “how” oil and gas development would proceed, but permitted zoning control over “where” development could occur. Act … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment After Robinson Twp

Robinson Twp. v. Commonwealth, No. 63 MAP 2012 (Pa. Dec. 19, 2013), upended a lot of what we thought we knew about the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, Pa. Const. art. I, § 27.  My January column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly / Legal Intelligencer addresses that aspect of the decision, one that affects much … Continue Reading

Valuing Contaminated Property

If you know contaminated industrial property would be worth $X clean, what is the proper way to value the contamination?  Maybe it is just the “cost to cure,” but that does not capture any “stigma” that may stay with the property.  And then there is a wrinkle if the property is the subject of an agreement … Continue Reading

Climate Change Adaptation

A lot of the climate change news recently — and I note it below — has focused on climate change “mitigation.”  Mitigation is steps that might be taken to slow or to avoid changes in the climate.  Of course, that first requires an identification of causes of climate change.  That runs into an ideological dispute … Continue Reading

Does Environmental Enforcement Against Individuals Make Sense?

As of September 8, 2013, 162 appeals had been filed in the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.  Some are appeals by disappointed applicants for permits.  Some are third-party appeals of permits.  Some are appeals from enforcement orders.  Of those 162 appeals, 19 are appeals from enforcement orders issued to individuals.  Of those, at least some are … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Maintains Presumption that Oil and Gas are Not “Minerals”

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided Butler v. Charles Powers Estate, No. 27-MAP-2012 (Pa. Apr. 24, 2013), re-affirming the general presumption in Pennsylvania law that a deed that conveys or reserves “minerals” does not convey or reserve rights in shale gas.  This presumption dates at least from Dunham v. Shortt & Kirkpatrick, 101 Pa. … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania General Assembly to Consider Requirements for Releases of Record by Oil and Natural Gas Lessees

Recently introduced legislation in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly proposes to create new statutory requirements for the release of terminated or cancelled oil or natural gas leases of record. If enacted, House Bill 402 would require lessees under oil or natural gas leases to deliver releases in recordable form to landowners at least 30 days prior to the termination or cancellation of such lease. … Continue Reading

Governmental Cost Recovery Under the Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act

Section 613 of the Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act (“SWMA”), Pa. Stat. Ann. tit. 35, § 6018.613, allows the Commonwealth or any municipality to recover the “costs of abatement” of “a public nuisance” under SWMA from a person who “causes a public nuisance” if the plaintiff government has in fact abated the nuisance.  This provision … Continue Reading

Litigation Over Groundwater Impacts of Natural Gas Wells in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has been making news recently for being friendly to natural gas development, or at least more friendly than New York.  However, examination of recent decisions suggests that the courts may be a little more plaintiff-friendly than, for example, the current administration.  I look at some litigation issues arising from natural gas development in my … Continue Reading

Institutional Controls and Pre-enforcment Review in Cleanup Cases

  My October Environmental Practice Column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly considers issues presented by the intersection of the bar on pre-enforcement review and reliance on “institutional controls.”  These issues come up in federal Superfund matters under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-75.  However, the discussion was motivated by a  September 4 ruling by … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania To Amend Its Erosion and Sediment Control General Permit

Under the terms of a settlement entered into in Chesapeake Bay Foundation v. DEP, No. 2009-116-L (Pa. Envtl. Hearing Bd. July 6, 2011), Pennsylvania will amend its Earth and Sediment Control General Permit (ESCGP-1) to make the General Permit unavailable to oil and gas projects in high quality or exceptional value water bodies, in floodplains or on contaminated land. … Continue Reading
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