July 27, 2012
PA Court Decision Provides Environmental Protection
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Commends Permit Waiver Decision
(HARRISBURG)—LeeAnn Murray, Pennsylvania Staff Attorney for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) today issued the following statement in response to a recent Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania decision affirming the ability of local authorities to zone drilling activities. The Court additionally overturned a permit waiver provision.
"The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania yesterday issued a significant win for the state's natural resources and citizens by closing a loophole in the regulation of drilling for natural gas. Their decision ensures the environmental protections of Act 13 are carried out by striking a provision that allows the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to permit a waiver of established setbacks from water sources.
Section 3215(b) of the Act establishes specific setbacks between the wellbore or disturbed area of the well and a water source. The Court said that as written, the waiver provision does not provide adequate guidance to DEP on when setbacks should or could be waived. Since the ultimate goal is to protect waterways, wetlands, and other water bodies, the waiver provision becomes ineffective in ensuring those protections remain in effect.
While it is likely that this action will be appealed, CBF commends the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in this recent decision. As a member of Governor Corbett's Marcellus Shale Commission, we advocated and will continue to advocate for environmental protections that protect our natural resources and the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth."