PA court weighs gas drilling rules, patient rights by The Associated Press, May 14, 2014,
A Pennsylvania appeals court appeared skeptical of gas drilling rules that would limit what “trade secrets” the industry must share after a spill. The Commonwealth Court also heard arguments Wednesday on whether injured patients and their doctors would have to keep information disclosed to them confidential. Pennsylvania is trying to update 20-year-old laws to oversee the drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale. But the state’s high court last year threw out much of the industry-friendly regulations passed in 2012.
In court Wednesday, Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini asked whether drilling companies alone should know what’s “in the secret sauce” used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. [Emphasis added]
Judges Question Pa. PUC’s Local Fracking Law Review Power by Matt Fair, May 14, 2014, Law 360
In ongoing litigation over efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing, an en banc panel of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judges on Wednesday questioned the authority of state utility regulators to review local drilling ordinances in the wake of a landmark decision striking down statewide zoning rules for the industry. While the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in December that key sections of controversial statewide rules for the oil and gas industry known as Act 13 violated constitutional protections on environmental resources, the state’s Public Utility Commission is pushing to…. [Emphasis added]
Pennsylvania court weighs gas drilling rules by Associated Press, in seattlepi.com, May 14, 2014
A Pennsylvania appeals court appeared skeptical of gas drilling rules that would limit what “trade secrets” the industry must share after a spill. The Commonwealth Court also heard arguments Wednesday on whether doctors treating an ill patient should have to keep information disclosed to them confidential.
Pennsylvania is trying to update 20-year-old laws to oversee the drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale. But the state’s high court last year threw out much of the industry-friendly regulations passed in 2012, which would have limited local oversight of drilling operations.
In Commonwealth Court arguments Wednesday, President Judge Dan Pellegrini asked whether drilling companies alone should know what chemicals are “in the secret sauce” used in the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process. Millions of gallons of fluids are forced into the earth in fracking to break through the shale. Under the existing law, companies must disclose the chemicals involved, but can make exceptions for what they deem trade secrets. “That kind of takes your breath away,” Pellegrini said.
On another point, the court was asked to order that contamination notices cover private water sources along with public water supplies. About 3 million people in Pennsylvania get their water from private sources, lawyer John Smith argued on behalf of several communities fighting provisions of the 2012 law, known as Act 13. Industry lawyer David Overstreet challenged the public criticism of his clients, who pay more than $200 million a year in impact fees to affected communities, state agencies and others in Pennsylvania.
“People are under the impression that we’re out to rape and pillage,” said Overstreet, who represents the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association and other trade groups. … The 2012 law would have restricted local municipalities’ ability to control where companies place rigs, waste pits, pipelines and processing stations. Gov. Tom Corbett and Republican lawmakers backed the industry, but critics and some municipalities said zoning restrictions were needed to protect the environment and the public’s health and safety.
The court did not immediately indicate when it would rule. [Emphasis added]
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“By any responsible account,” [Pennsylvanian Supreme Court] Chief Justice Castille wrote, “the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and the future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.”