Wayne County Landowner Files Brief in Case Against DRBC Frack Ban

Whatever happened to the lawsuit filed by a Wayne County, PA landowner against the egregious overreach by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) in its ongoing stall/delay/block of any shale drilling within the Basin? In March, MDN reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against the Wayne landowner in a lawsuit that challenged the right of the DRBC to stop fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush, it may seem like a setback for landowners in Wayne and Pike Counties who have been denied the right to lease and allow drilling under their land for the past 10 years. But looks can be deceiving. As we pointed out in our article, if you read the judge’s decision, he harpoons all of the DRBC’s legal arguments, but in the end rules against the landowner. Why? Because the judge wanted to send the case to a higher court for an ultimate decision–the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, Judge Mariani set up the appeal of the case perfectly, we’d say intentionally, and that has the DRBC and their cohorts at THE Delaware Riverkeeper really nervous (see Wayne Co. Landowner Welcomes Decision in Dismissed DRBC Lawsuit). We have an update. The Wayne landowners filed their court brief in an appeal of the case yesterday. The case turns on the concept of what constitutes a “project” for the DRBC. The DRBC claims that all gas well pads, drilling, etc.–anything that uses water within the Basin–is a “project” as defined under the original compact forming the DRBC, and therefore under their jurisdiction. The lawsuit (an excellent read, full copy below) states such a reading of the original compact, and based on 40 years of history since that time, says otherwise. Just because you push dirt around and use some water, does not mean that activity falls under the DRBC’s current overreach in defining a project. The lawsuit askes the 3rd Circuit to rule on what is, and what is not, a project for the DRBC…

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