Judge Kevin Brobson of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania hit the brakes on a number of Chapter 78a Regulations promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection’s environmental quality board (EQB) aimed at the oil and gas extraction industry. The decision was rendered in Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 573 M.D. 2016. The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) successfully secured a preliminary injunction upon application for expedited special relief staying the enforcement of several sections of the Chapter 78a Regulations, and, in the process, spared Pennsylvania oil and gas business and its economy from substantial additional compliance costs with a suite of regulations with little if any marginal environmental benefit.
The dispute arose out of rules contained in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 78a, which went into effect on Oct. 8. As anyone who has been following the development of these regulations well knows, the Chapter 78a Regulations have a sordid and controversial history. After Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration arrived in Harrisburg, it “reworked” the original version of the rules, and then pushed them through the EQB, even after Wolf’s own advisory board disapproved of the reworked regulatory package. Industry comments were pretty much ignored by the administration.
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