PIOGA Loses Court Case Challenging PA DEP Standards for Permits

courtgavel.jpgUPDATE: PIOGA sent MDN an exclusive statement about the case. They intend to appeal. Read PIOGA’s statement below…

In 2013 a RINO justice on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ron Castille, sold out the Marcellus industry and joined with three Democrats on the state’s high court to overturn a large and important part of the newly minted Act 13 drilling law, in a case known as Robinson v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Part of the Act 13 law was left intact, but part of it, the part that directed local municipalities to craft zoning laws to include certain statewide uniform provisions concerning the location of oil and gas operations, was tossed (see What Does PA Supreme Court Decision on Act 13 Mean?). In June of this year, the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) argued a lawsuit against the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) based on the tossed Act 13 case. PIOGA argued that part of the Act 13 law–the part that granted the DEP sweeping power to consider proposed impacts a well might have on public and natural resources when considering whether or not to issue a permit–was no longer valid. PIOGA said those parts of the law are directly related and intertwined with the part struck down by the Supreme Court. In other words, Act 13 in its original form, as passed, said the DEP could consider impacts on public and natural resources as part of the decisional process for issuing permits, but the Supremes struck down that part of the decisional process because they said it could not be implemented consistent with Act 13’s intent. PIOGA’s lawsuit pointed out that public natural resources were still protected by other laws operators must comply with and that the Supreme Court’s invalidation of Section 3215(c) meant that DEP ould no longer impose conditions in permits related to these other laws. A Commonwealth Court in PA ruled yesterday against PIOGA’s argument (full copy of the ruling embedded below). In essence, the court is picking and choosing which parts of a law that was duly passed it wants to have enforced, and the parts it doesn’t like it willy nilly tosses, which is bass ackwards. DEP must obey the Supreme Court’s rulings just as everyone does, but not for now courtesy of the Commonwealth Court…

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