3 PA Senators Seek to Join Lawsuit Against DRBC Frack Ban

A bit of encouraging news to share with respect to a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and their attempt to ban fracking and shale drilling in the basin. In May 2016, a landowner in Wayne County, PA 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. The case was eventually appealed to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In July that court sent 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 (see Major Federal Court Decision Opens Door to Stop DRBC Frack Ban). It was 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 new news is that three prominent Pennsylvania State Senators, Lisa Baker, Gene Yaw and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, have all filed to join the lawsuit as “intervenors” on behalf of the Wayne landowner. They want to add their two cents, on behalf of the Commonwealth of PA, to influence the court to rule in favor of the landowner (overruling the DRBC). What’s noteworthy about this development is that long-time senators typically don’t make risky political moves. The senators are either confident that the landowner will win the case, or if he loses, that public sentiment is with the landowner (a political win). The senators’ participation has the DRBC even more nervous, as evidenced by statements from their mouthpiece THE Delaware Riverkeeper’s Maya van Rossum…

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