Today the state Supreme Court issued two rulings in favor of the environment!
First, they ruled that when the General Assembly diverted funds from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund into the General Fund they essentially violated the provisions of the Environmental Rights Amendment requiring the Commonwealth to “conserve and maintain” our natural resources for the benefit of all. Insofar as a fund was established (the Oil and Gas Lease Fund) to support the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, it was a violation of the state constitution to divert the money and, in fact, “[t]he Commonwealth itself readily acknowledges that revenue generated by oil and gas leases is now spent in a multitude of ways entirely unrelated to the conservation and maintenance of our public natural resources.”
The PA Environment Digest provides a cogent analysis – and links to the opinions resulting from the decision.
Barely an hour and a half later, the Court further upheld a Commonwealth Court decision that the Department of Environmental Protection has the authority to take into consideration in its permitting process the impact of a proposed well on public resources, including local, state and national parks, natural landmarks, habitats of rare and endangered species, historical and archaeological sites and sources of drinking water supply.
PPFF President Marci Mowery noted that, “In a time when each day seems to bring another blow to environmental protection, we congratulate the justices of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court for remembering that the public lands of Penn’s Woods belong to all of us.”