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Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20090
Nos. J-73-2017, (Pa., 06/01/2018)

Pennsylvania's highest court largely upheld a temporary injunction enjoining the state environmental agency from enforcing certain regulations governing unconventional oil and gas operations. The court reversed the lower court's issuance of the injunction on just two issues. Contrary to the ruling of the lower court, the agency has authority to regulate existing well-development impoundments more strictly than when they were first permitted, and can require operators to install synthetic liners and fence the impoundments. In addition, the agency may enforce site restoration provisions because they do not conflict with state sediment and erosion control requirements. But in all other respects, the temporary injunction was upheld: the agency may not require operators to include school properties and playgrounds among the "public resources" for which impacts must be evaluated or "species of special concern" among the public resources to be protected. Nor may the agency require operators to monitor and remediate abandoned and other wells located in a proposed area-of-review when the applicant is neither the owner of these wells nor the landowner of the property on which they are located. The injunction was also upheld as to regulations that require closure or re-permitting and upgrade of "centralized impoundments" under the Solid Waste Management Act.