2017 PA Enviro Rights Amendment Case Spawns New Drilling Lawsuits

A panel discussion at last week’s Shale Insight event focused on a pair of Pennsylvania lawsuits that has the potential (indeed already is) changing the drilling landscape in PA. The first lawsuit discussed was the decision from June 2017–“Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” PEDF is an anti-fossil fuel group. They convinced the PA Supreme Court to issue a decision that tosses out a decades-old “balancing test” in decisions about drilling and instead said land-use and permitting decisions must now meet standards established by the state’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA). The PEDF decision is creating big question marks for drillers and has spawned a flurry of lawsuits to define which standards to use. The second case discussed at Shale Insight was the “Briggs” case that tossed out the rule of capture in PA for shale drilling. Both cases have the potential to greatly limit Marcellus drilling in PA.

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