PA Supreme Court Hears Arguments on DEP Request to Unblock Regs

PA Supreme Court Justices

In October 2016, after five years in the making, Pennsylvania adopted new shale drilling regulations (see PA’s New Chapter 78a Drilling Regs Go into Effect Oct 8). Although the regs were ready at the end of the Gov. Tom Corbett Administration, Corbett fumbled the ball and the regs didn’t get adopted, which left them vulnerable to the incoming left-leaning Tom Wolf Administration. Wolf’s people mangled the regulations under the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) Dictator/Secretary John Quigley, who got fired over unethical collusion with Big Green groups. Some of the good stuff remained, but onerous new elements were introduced. The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), which represents PA’s biggest shale drillers, filed an appeal in Commonwealth Court to block the most onerous aspects of the new regulations (see Marc. Shale Coalition Files Lawsuit to Block PA Chapter 78a Regs). The judge agreed to “temporarily” block some of the items in the MSC list (see PA Judge Temporarily Blocks Some DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs). In December, the DEP escalated the case by asking the PA Supreme Court to undo the block on those regulations imposed by the lower Commonwealth Court (see PA DEP Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Stay on New Regs). Yesterday the Supremes heard oral arguments in the case. Although one activist justice (Sallie Updyke Mundy) seems to want to grant the DEP’s request to allow the stopped rules from going into effect, several other justices appear to want to let the issue play out in the lower Commonwealth Court, preferring to goose the lower court into speedier action…

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