On July 21, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court revisited the Environmental Rights Amendment, Article I, Section 27, of the Pennsylvania Constitution when Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth returned to the court after remand. The Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court and held that all the amounts received by the commonwealth when it leased state lands for oil and gas development had to be appropriated to conservation and protection of public natural resources.
The disposition of the PEDF litigation may have troubling implications for development of the law under the ERA. The seven justices split into four opinions largely over whether and how to apply private trust principles to the proceeds of oil and gas leasing. Perhaps the problem is that the case identifies the public natural resource at issue as if it were a private asset, and then values it similarly.