ChesterNewMatterSummer2017 - 11

Save Our Environment

Maryland's fracking ban, which as of this writing is not
final, was imposed by a bill passed by both the Maryland State
House of Delegates and the Senate, and which bill is lying on
Governor Larry Hogan's desk. Governor Hogan has pledged to
sign the bill into law. Governor Hogan reportedly was opposed
to the bill, but suddenly changed his position, complaining that
the Maryland Legislature failed to develop sufficiently stringent
fracking regulations, and that therefore he had no choice but to
sign the bill to protect Maryland and its citizens.
In December 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency officials released the results of a five-year study
on fracking, and which concluded, in part, that various
practices associated with hydraulic fracturing could have
adverse impacts on drinking water resources. The report is
controversial because EPA allegedly made changes to an earlier
draft study which seemed to minimize the potential threat
posed by fracking to drinking water supplies. The final report
does not appear to include those proposed changes, and details
a number of areas in which the fracking process can have,
and has had, adverse impacts on drinking water resources.
See Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the
Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources
in the United States, EPA-600-R-16-236ES, December 2016.
The report can be found at

So, Pennsylvania's largest neighbors to the north and south
have banned fracking. Pennsylvania, of course, has not banned
fracking, and the development of the natural gas produced
by the Marcellus Shale formation in the Keystone State has
led to an abundant supply of natural gas and related chemical
products. Former Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania
Legislature attempted further to facilitate Marcellus Shale gas
development by passing a new Oil and Gas Act (also known as
Act 13) in 2012. After years of litigation, however, Act 13 was
largely declared unconstitutional by Pennsylvania courts for
various reasons, not the least of which were various statutory
provisions held to be contrary to Article 1, Section 27 of the
Pennsylvania Constitution (also known as the Environmental
In WLMG v. DRBC, plaintiff WLMG essentially sought a
declaration that its shale gas development project was not
subject to DRBC jurisdiction. After carefully analyzing
questions related to jurisdiction, standing, and ripeness, the
court found that it had jurisdiction over the WLMG claim,
and that WLMG had standing to bring the action, and that the
controversy was ripe for adjudication.
Turning to the heart of the claim, Judge Mariani found that
the WLMG proposal was a project that required approval from
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