Second Suit Filed to Stop Drilling in PA State Parks

A lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s executive order lifting oil and gas development in state parks and forests was filed last week by The Delaware Riverkeeper Network. This is the second suit aimed at stopping oil and gas development on public lands, but the first to directly challenge Corbett’s order.

From StateImpact Pennsylvania:

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s challenge, filed Thursday in Commonwealth Court, is based on the state’s environmental rights amendment and is a direct result of the Riverkeeper’s successful challenge of Act 13. In that case, the Supreme Court invoked article 1, section 27 of the state constitution, also referred to as the environmental rights amendment, to strike down key aspects of the state’s new drilling law. The Riverkeeper’s latest challenge of Corbett’s executive order could serve as a test case for how the courts continue to interpret the state’s environmental rights amendment.

Riverkeeper Maya Van Rossum said Corbett’s executive order on opening up more state land to natural gas development “invites and encourages the frackers to come right up to the edge of our public parks, destroying the adjacent communities as well as destroying the park lands themselves.”

A separate lawsuit, filed back in 2012 by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Fund — also based on the environmental rights amendment — challenges the Governor’s authority to lease that land, and to use the proceeds for the general fund. After a series of hearings, the case is now in the hands of seven Commonwealth Court judges.