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Environment Legislation

In March of 2016, PennFutureClean Air Council, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted an amicus brief in the ongoing challenge of an Allegheny Township ordinance allowing unconventional natural gas well drilling in residential and agricultural neighborhoods. 

Recently, in January 2018, PennFuture and Clean Air Council filed a supplemental amicus brief explaining the impacts of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's recent decision in PEDF v. Commonwealth on the case. The supplemental amicus brief argues that PEDF rejected the use of the three-part test on which Allegheny Township relies to assert that its ordinance is not unconstitutional and that PEDF’s adoption of the plurality decision in Robinson Township forcefully supports Appellants’ argument that an ordinance allowing industrial shale gas development by right across all zoned districts is unconstitutional under Article I, Section 27.

PA Department of Environmental Proection appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from an order of the Commonwealth Court which limited the circumstances under which the Department of Environmental Protection could impose civil penalties on companies that unlawfully discharge industrial waste into waters of the Commonwealth.  

Because of the import of the case, PennFuture filed a friend-of-the-court (or amicus brief) in support of an interpretation of the Clean Streams Law that provides the agency with broad authority to impose substantial penalties when a company engages in conduct that causes widespread pollution to waters of the Commonwealth. 

In March 2018, the PA Supreme Court issued a decision vacating the Commonwealth Court's decision with regard to the lack of its treatment of Sections 307 and 401 of the Clean Streams Law, rejecting the PA Department of Environmental Proection's so called water-to-water theories. 

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision on June 1, 2018 in PennFuture’s appeal of the appellate court decision allowing high volume hydraulic gas drilling in areas zoned as “residential-agricultural.” PennFuture submitted its opening brief to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on August 1, 2016 and a reply brief on September 19, 2016, presented oral arguments on March 8, 2017.


In 2014, PennFuture secured a victory in Pennsylvania’s Court of Common Pleas on behalf of its clients, four residents of Fairfield Township, Lycoming County, appealing a conditional use permit issued by Township Supervisors for high volume gas drilling operation in a district zoned "residential-agricultural.” The drilling company, Inflection Energy, LLC, and the Township appealed the lower court’s decision. The Commonwealth Court reversed the lower court’s decision finding the proposed gas development was similar to and compatible with other uses in the residential-agricultural zoned area.

Environment Policies

Introduced: Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R)
House Resolution urging the Delaware River Basin Commission to suspend consideration of a moratorium on natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin.

More Information:
PennFuture Letter of Opposition (October 2017)

Introduced: Sen. Gene Yaw (R)
Surgical change to Pennsylvanias Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537) to allow for on-lot alternative sewage systems in municipal sewage planning. Currently, Act 537 is interpreted as not allowing alternative systems in site planning, but can be installed once the site is established.

Agency: DEP
Development of Pennsylvania's Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIPIII) to describe pollution reduction programs and goals in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed counties through 2025.

More Information:
Pennsylvania Bulletin Notice
Public Comment Page
Choose Clean Water Coalition Public Comments (July 2017)

 

Agency: DEP
Proposed Pennsylvania mitigation strategy for investing the state share ($118 million) of the Volkswagon (VW) Settlement. VW was found to illegally exceeding air pollution limits on its diesel automobiles. As a result, VW settled the case by, in part, providing a multi-billion payment to states whose air quality was adversly impacted. Pennsylvania's draft mitigation plan aims to invest its share in reducing NOx from the transportation sector.

More Information:
Pennsylvania Bulletin Notice
Draft Mitigation Plan
Public Comment Page
PennFuture Public Comments (July 2017)

Environment Blog Posts

The Land and Water Conservation Fund protects some of our most precious lands.
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Director of Development M. Travis DiNicola discusses Thanksgiving, and what it means to him.
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PennFuture and Trout Unlimited recently partnered during an event in Harrisburg. Learn more!
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Environment News