Pennsylvania Commonwealth's Decision in Robinson Township

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court released its decision this morning in Robinson Township et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (284 M.D. 2012).

The Commonwealth Court:
  1. found that the municipalities and two individual council members had standing, but that the other petitioners (an environmental group and a physician) did not; 
  2. held that Act 13, Section 3304--which would have established uniform, statewide zoning standards--violated substantive due process because it allowed incompatible uses, which did "not serve the police power purpose of the local zoning ordinances, relating to consistent and compatible uses in the enumerated districts of a comprehensive zoning plan"; 
  3. declared Section 3304 "unconstitutional and null and void, and permanently enjoin[ed] the Commonwealth from enforcing it"; 
  4. declared Section 3215(b)(4) (relating to Department of Environmental Protection waivers from water body and wetland setbacks) null and void; and 
  5. dismissed the remaining counts. 
Read the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s statement on the decision

Ohio’s Governor Issues An Executive Order Relating to Underground Injection Activities

Ohio Governor John Kasich
On July 10, 2012, with the ink barely dry on the signing into law of S.B. 315, which requires water testing within 1500 feet of proposed horizontal wells and the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, Ohio Governor John Kasich issued Executive Order 2012-09K.

This Executive Order immediately implements regulations and requirements on deep-injection wells.

The Executive Order authorizes the head of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management in Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources to require seismic testing before well drilling, regulations regarding sites that do not pass certain tests, set maximum injection pressures, require installation of an automatic shut-off device, and require continuous monitoring of the annulus between the casing and tubing in a well.

With the increase in the number of underground injections of brine and other waste products from drilling, exploration, and production operations, the Governor asserted that these steps were necessary to update the regulations relating to underground injection control activities and “to provide the greatest degree of citizen protection possible without causing irreparable harm to an industry important to the economy.”

This article was prepared by Barclay Nicholson ( / 713 651 3662) from Fulbright's Energy Law Practice.