The Latest in Environment

Environment Legislation

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted PennFuture’s petition for review of an 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, a reply brief on September 19, 2016, and awaits oral arguments.

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.

In 2014, PennFuture brought a citizen suit to enforce the conditions in the Borough of Confluence’s permit to operate a wastewater treatment facility. Confluence was allowing polluted water into the Youghiogheny River known for its high water quality and trout fishing habitat.
PennFuture challenged the validity of Mt. Pleasant Township’s ordinance allowing gas drilling in all zoned districts, including a proposed natural gas drilling site in close proximity to a school.

Environment Policies

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.

Introduced: Sen. Richard Alloway (R)
Implements new standards on fertilizers used for turf applications, such as lawns, athletic fields, and golf courses. Limits the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen used in fertilizer as well as provides for certification of professional fertilizer applicators.

More Information:
Choose Clean Water Coalition Joint Letter of Support (June 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

Agency: Fish and Boat Commission
Proposed river and stream designations as Wild Trout waterways to manage self-sustaining trout populations as a natural resource.

More Information:
Pennsylvania Bulletin Notice
Proposed Changes
Public Comment Page

Environment Blog Posts

This primer is Part 1 in a two part series, with a sidebar providing a brief history of Pennsylvania’s policy fight for clean water, a description of the water pollution challenges impacting Pennsylvanians, and the potential solutions toward providing clean water for all.
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Pennsylvania’s first statewide policy for preventing water pollution was the Purity of Waters Act of 1905, which set the first limits on how much “sewage” could be placed into Pennsylvania’s waterways.
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Environment News