The Latest in Environment

Environment Legislation

Earthjustice filed a complaint on behalf of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Gasp, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Sierra Club, sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for improperly regulating coke ovens – producers of known carcinogens – thus failing to protect communities throughout the country. Over a decade ago, EPA found that carcinogenic emissions from coke ovens destroy air quality and cause devastating health complications, yet plaintiffs in the case argue the agency failed to act to protect nearby communities from this threat.

The Commonwealth Court issued a decision affirming the lower court's decision upholding the validity of an Allegheny Township ordinance allowing unconventional natural gas well drilling in residential and agricultural neighborhoods was.   

PennFutureClean Air Council, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted an amicus brief in March 2016 and PennFuture and Clean Air Council filed a supplemental amicus brief  in January 2018 explaining the impacts of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's recent decision in PEDF v. Commonwealth on the case. The supplemental amicus brief argues that PEDF rejected the use of the three-part test on which Allegheny Township relies to assert that its ordinance is not unconstitutional and that PEDF’s adoption of the plurality decision in Robinson Township forcefully supports Appellants’ argument that an ordinance allowing industrial shale gas development by right across all zoned districts is unconstitutional under Article I, Section 27.

PA Department of Environmental Proection appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from an order of the Commonwealth Court which limited the circumstances under which the Department of Environmental Protection could impose civil penalties on companies that unlawfully discharge industrial waste into waters of the Commonwealth.  

Because of the import of the case, PennFuture filed a friend-of-the-court (or amicus brief) in support of an interpretation of the Clean Streams Law that provides the agency with broad authority to impose substantial penalties when a company engages in conduct that causes widespread pollution to waters of the Commonwealth. 

In March 2018, the PA Supreme Court issued a decision vacating the Commonwealth Court's decision with regard to the lack of its treatment of Sections 307 and 401 of the Clean Streams Law, rejecting the PA Department of Environmental Proection's so called water-to-water theories. 

Environment Policies

Introduced: Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R)
House Resolution urging the Delaware River Basin Commission to suspend consideration of a moratorium on natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin.

More Information:
PennFuture Letter of Opposition (October 2017)

Introduced: Sen. Gene Yaw (R)
Surgical change to Pennsylvanias Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537) to allow for on-lot alternative sewage systems in municipal sewage planning. Currently, Act 537 is interpreted as not allowing alternative systems in site planning, but can be installed once the site is established.

Agency: DEP
Development of Pennsylvania's Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIPIII) to describe pollution reduction programs and goals in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed counties through 2025.

More Information:
Pennsylvania Bulletin Notice
Public Comment Page
Choose Clean Water Coalition Public Comments (July 2017)

 

Agency: DEP
Proposed Pennsylvania mitigation strategy for investing the state share ($118 million) of the Volkswagon (VW) Settlement. VW was found to illegally exceeding air pollution limits on its diesel automobiles. As a result, VW settled the case by, in part, providing a multi-billion payment to states whose air quality was adversly impacted. Pennsylvania's draft mitigation plan aims to invest its share in reducing NOx from the transportation sector.

More Information:
Pennsylvania Bulletin Notice
Draft Mitigation Plan
Public Comment Page
PennFuture Public Comments (July 2017)

Environment Blog Posts

Pennsylvania is a water rich state with approximately 86,000 stream miles connecting more than 700,000 acres of lakes, bays, and wetlands. Protecting and monitoring such a high volume of the Commonwealth's waterways is a challenging but necessary task.
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On Monday, April 15, PennFuture submitted public comments opposing the Trump Administration’s proposed revised definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
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On February 14, 2019, the federal agencies tasked with regulating our nation’s waters under the Clean Water Act – the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Army Corps of Engineers – issued a new definition of “waters of the United States,” which will dramatically limit the protections of the Cle
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Environment News

PennFuture has submitted comments regarding the 2018 Draft Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality Report.
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PennFuture's Ezra Thrush writes about the Energize Pa program, and why it could be bad for Pennsylvania
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