Unsurprisingly, the Pennsylvania appellate courts decided fewer environmental cases than usual in 2020. Please forgive any omissions of cases or detail in this catalogue.

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Continue Reading Environmental Cases in the Pennsylvania Appellate Courts in 2020

A curious appellate court decision has Pennsylvania environmental law practitioners scratching their heads about the status of certain waterways.

No, we do not reference the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest Clean
Continue Reading Navigability: It’s Not Just for the Federal Clean Water Act Anymore

On May 12, 2020, a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that certain net metering regulations of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) are unenforceable. The regulations
Continue Reading Commonwealth Court’s Invalidation of Pennsylvania PUC Defined Terms – Potential Net Metering Implications

SEPs, which permit a defendant to undertake an environmentally beneficial project in lieu of paying penalties—or in exchange for reduced penalties—have been seen as benefiting defendants, enforcement agencies and communities
Continue Reading Is There Still a Place for Supplemental Environmental Projects in Pennsylvania?

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision that appeared to make the “rule of capture” inapplicable to oil and gas wells subjected to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Briggs v. Sw. Energy Production Co., No. 63 MAP 2018 (Pa. Jan. 22, 2020) (see majority opinion; see concurring and dissenting opinion). However, the court has left open whether a well owner whose hydraulic fracturing fluids or proppants migrate under a property line, and perhaps even a well owner whose fracture traces extend across that line, has committed a trespass. Those issues are remanded, and their resolution remains uncertain.

Oil and gas (or, for that matter, any fluids) migrate into a well bore from the surrounding rock. If the well drains a conventional reservoir, the hydrocarbons may have originated at the other end of the reservoir under a different property. A well on one property can drain hydrocarbons originally located under another. Recall the “I drink your milkshake” scene from There Will Be Blood (Paramount 2007).
Continue Reading Rule of Capture is Back for Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Wells . . . Sort Of