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Environmental Law Posts

PA Supreme Court Rules Against PADEP “Mere Presence” and “Water-to-Water” Discharge Theories >
April 2, 2018
By: Terry R. Bossert and Aaron S. Mapes
In a 5-2 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided last week that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection cannot assess daily penalties under the Clean Streams Law on the basis that contaminants released to groundwater, or other “Waters of the Commonwealth,” remain in those “waters” or have migrated from one “water” to another. The Court struck down the so-called “mere presence” and “water-to-water” discharge theories, put forth by PADEP in opposition to a declaratory judgment action filed by EQT Production Company. PADEP had used these theories of liability to support, in part, an over $4.5 million civil penalty lodged against EQT for a release of hydraulic fracturing “flow-back” water from a lined impoundment.
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EPA's Latest Attempt to Supercharge Superfund Cleanups >
March 15, 2018
By: Michael P. Canavan
Scott Pruitt, the fourteenth Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recently appeared on The New York Times' The Daily podcast, where he outlined his vision for the EPA, discussed his view of its societal role, and answered questions about specific goals he sought to accomplish during his time at the helm of the EPA.
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SCOTUS Issues Three Critical Environmental Rulings >
January 30, 2018
By: Paul M. Schmidt
Often, decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) only impact a narrow range of entities and circumstances. However, several recent and pending cases related to environmental issues and land use will instead impact a wide-range of property owners. 
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The Commonwealth Court's Stripper Well Decision - Does it Warrant the Angst? >
April 24, 2017
By: Terry R. Bossert
On March 29, 2017, the Commonwealth Court issued its decision in Snyder Brothers, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (1043 C.D. 2015). The decision appears to be a simple legal interpretation of the statutory definition of "stripper well" in a manner beneficial to Snyder Brothers and potentially generally beneficial to the unconventional natural gas industry. However, media attention and political reactions have far outstripped the Court's basic legal analysis. The decision has been cited as a harbinger of diminished impact fee revenue; as a reason to amend Act 13; and, not unexpectedly, as a justification for a new severance tax. The reactions, while not unexpected, are perhaps overstated.
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PA DEP Evaluates Itself >
January 19, 2017
By: Terry R. Bossert
Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a press release announcing its internal review of the expedited review process for the Erosion and Sediment Control General Permit (ESCGP-2). At the same time, DEP made available an Internal Review document discussing its audit of the expedited review process.
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