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Justin H. Werner of Reed Smith. Justin H. Werner of Reed Smith.

On Nov. 5, the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation filed a new petition in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court against the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) challenging the DCNR’s state forest resource management plan, adopted in 2016, see Docket 609 MD 2019. The basis for the lawsuit stems from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s earlier decision in Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth, 161 A.3d 911, 930 (Pa. 2017), where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the commonwealth had a duty as a trustee with respect to the management of public natural resources. Since the issuance of the PEDF decision in 2017, the foundation has been actively litigating the contours of the commonwealth’s trustee duty recognized in that decision, and this latest petition represents the most effort by the foundation to define the commonwealth’s ongoing duties with respect to the management of state forest lands as it relates to potentially lucrative oil and gas development.

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