Environmental Rights Amendment

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Group Challenging Drilling Law in Pittsburgh Suburb 

A group of residents in Westmoreland County hopes a judge will halt expansion of gas drilling in their township, and will throw out a zoning ordinance that allows drilling in most of the community. Protect PT’s lawsuit against Penn Township’s Zoning Hearing Board is scheduled for county court in January. For now, a judge has [...]

Pennsylvania’s environmental rights amendment is back from the dead

Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states to recognize clean air and pure water as a basic civil right. However, the powerful language in the state constitution was dismissed for decades. That’s all changing, says John Dernbach, director of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center at Widener University. Speaking Friday at the Decade of Disruption: [...]

Wolf weighs bill that would aid development of long-wall coal mines

Governor Tom Wolf is weighing a bill that would make it easier for an energy company to obtain permits for the controversial process of long-wall coal mining beneath a state park in southwest Pennsylvania but which opponents say could damage streams in the area. Senate Bill 624 landed on Wolf’s desk on Tuesday after being [...]

Court to decide if nearly $400 million in state oil and gas bonuses fund conservation

State revenue from oil and gas signing bonuses should be used to fund conservation in the same way as the proceeds from oil and gas royalties, an environmental advocate argued, urging an appeals court to support a recent landmark ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation said almost $400 million in [...]

In vetoing plastic bag bill, Wolf cites Environmental Rights Amendment

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday vetoed a bill that would have curbed the right of towns and cities to regulate use of plastic shopping bags, saying it would have violated the Environmental Rights Amendment of the state Constitution. His use of the Amendment as justification for the veto follows a landmark ruling by the [...]

Pa. Supreme Court upholds broad interpretation of Environmental Rights Amendment

In a landmark environmental decision, a majority of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court justices established a broad interpretation of the Environmental Rights Amendment to the state constitution Tuesday, cementing in place the commonwealth’s role as trustee for public natural resources. The move is a victory for environmental advocates, and a defeat for the state and industrial polluters, [...]

Gas drillers lose case over well permit requirements

A Pennsylvania appeals court has ruled that the Department of Environmental Protection has the authority to consider the impact of gas drilling wells on public and natural resources including, but not limited to, public drinking water supplies, parks, forests, game lands, habitats of rare and endangered species, historic and archeological sites, scenic rivers, and historic [...]

Second lawsuit filed to halt drilling in state parks and forests

An environmental group has filed a lawsuit challenging the Corbett administration’s plan to lease more state park and forest land for oil and gas development. The Corbett Administration lifted a moratorium on new leases in state parks and forests with an executive order last May to help plug a budget gap. The lawsuit filed by [...]

Commonwealth Court takes up issue of drilling in state parks and forests

The fate of expanded natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s parks and forests is now in the hands of seven Commonwealth Court Judges. Governor Tom Corbett wants to lease 25,000 acres of additional state land to drillers in order to raise $95 million to plug a hole in the 2014-2015 fiscal year’s $29.1 billion budget. The [...]

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