Partial Victory for PA Drillers re DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has handed PA drillers a partial victory in their quest to block onerous new drilling regulations, part of something called Chapter 78a. In October 2016, after five years in the making, PA 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). In December 2016, the DEP escalated the case by asking the PA Supreme Court to undo the block on those regulations imposed by the lower Commonwealth Court. Last October the Supremes heard oral arguments in the case, and in June of this year the Supremes ruled to not undo the block on DEP’s onerous regs–but instead bumped the case back down to Commonwealth Court to let the matter play out there (see PA Supreme Court Upholds Block on DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs). Last week Commonwealth Court struck down provisions in Chapter 78a (f) and (g) defining “common areas of a school’s property and playgrounds,” and “species of special concern” as public resources under Act 13. While we didn’t get 100% of what we wanted, we got maybe 95%–at least for the two provisions in sections (f) and (g). Other parts of the lawsuit are still under consideration by Commonwealth Court. Here’s the deets on this important victory for Marcellus drillers…

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