Major Federal Court Decision Opens Door to Stop DRBC Frack Ban

A lawsuit that began in 2016 is finally bearing fruit, and may lead to blocking efforts by the rogue Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to block fracking in Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania. In May 2016, a landowner in Wayne County filed a lawsuit against the DRBC asking a judge to declare that the DRBC does not have jurisdiction to prevent construction of a natural gas well (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). The Wayne landowner argued in U.S. District Court that oil and gas wells, under the DRBC’s charter, do not constitute a “project” that is regulated by the DRBC and therefore are exempt from oversight from the DRBC. The way the DRBC so broadly reinterprets the word “project” in the original charter, it allows them to regulate anything and everything. In March 2016, MDN reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against the landowner (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush it seemed like a setback for landowners in Wayne and Pike counties. But looks can be deceiving. As we pointed out, when 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. Which is precisely where the case ended up. Last November oral arguments were heard in the appealed case. The DRBC’s lawyer conveniently had a couple of fainting spells that delayed the proceedings when tough questioning didn’t go his way (see DRBC Lawyer Nearly Faints 2nd Time When Questioned by Fed Judges). On Tuesday, July 3rd, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, sending the case back down to U.S. District Court with orders to more fully consider what is, and what is not, meant by the word “project” in the original DRBC charter. Interpretation: This is a MAJOR victory for the landowner, and a MAJOR defeat of the DRBC. No, the case isn’t over yet, but now the full case will get heard. The legal arguments in the case clearly support the landowner. The rogue DRBC is very nervous, as evidenced by reaction from their proxy mouthpiece, THE Delaware Riverkeeper…

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