Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

EQT Production Co. v. Department of Environmental Protection

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20007
Nos. 15 MAP 2015, (Pa., 12/29/2015)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a natural gas company charged with violating the state's Clean Streams Law may seek preenforcement judicial review of the state environmental agency's interpretation of the statute's penalty provisions. The agency, which has assessed ongoing, multimillion dollar penalties against the company, maintains that the adminstrative hearing board is the appropriate and exclusive vehicle for resolving the company's challenges, and that the company must first exhaust its administrative remedies. But the court agreed with the company that it may seek preenforcement review. The impact of the agency's threat of multimillion dollar assessments against the company is sufficiently direct, immediate, and substantial to create a case or controversy justifying pre-enforcement judicial review via a declaratory judgment proceeding. The court also held that exhaustion of administrative remedies relative to the issues of statutory interpretation that the company has presented is unnecessary. A lower court's decision to the contrary was therefore reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings.