ChesterNewMatterFall2017 - 13

Save Our Environment
recognize that development promoting the economic well-being
of the citizenry obviously is a legitimate state interest. In this
respect, and relevant here, it is important to note that we do
not perceive Section 27 as expressing the intent of either the
unanimous legislative sponsors or the ratifying voters to deprive
persons of the use of their property or to derail development
leading to an increase in the general welfare, convenience, and
prosperity of the people. But, to achieve recognition of the
environmental rights enumerated in the first clause of Section
27 as "inviolate" necessarily implies that economic development
cannot take place at the expense of an unreasonable degradation
of the environment. As respects the environment, the state's
plenary police power, which serves to promote said welfare,
convenience, and prosperity, must be exercised in a manner that
promotes sustainable property use and economic development.
Robinson Township II, Plurality Opinion, Slip Op. at 79.
In summary, the decision in PaEDF v. Commw. holds as
1. The longstanding Payne Test is overruled;
2. Art. 1, Sec. 27 applies to all branches and levels of
government (The drafters and the citizens of the
Commonwealth who ratified the Environmental Rights
Amendment, aware of this history, articulated the people's
rights and the government's duties to the people in broad
and flexible terms that would permit not only reactive but
also anticipatory protection of the environment for the
benefit of current and future generations. Moreover, public
trustee duties were delegated concomitantly to all branches
and levels of government in recognition that the quality
of the environment is a task with both local and statewide
implications, and to ensure that all government neither
infringed upon the people's rights nor failed to act for the
benefit of the people in this area crucial to the well-being of
all Pennsylvanians. Robinson Township II, at 963 (footnotes
and some citations omitted));
3. The Commonwealth's natural resources comprise the
corpus of a trust;
4. The Commonwealth must manage the public natural
resources using a trust fiduciary standard;
5. The public trust provisions of Art. 1, Sec. 27 are selfexecuting; and
6. The Pa. Legislature cannot use, or direct the resources in
the Gas Lease Fund to be used, for purposes not related
to conservation or the protection of the public natural
So, the full implications of this important environmental
law decision are not yet clear, but we expect them to come into
focus in the coming years - likely through more litigation.

Goldberg, Goldberg
& Janoski
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matter, we can help!
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