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Environmental Law

PA Brownfields Environmental Law PA Brownfields Environmental Law

Developments in Pennsylvania brownfields and environmental law including discussion of low risk sites, SIA agreements, and the Hazardous Site Clean-up Act (HSCA).
By M. Joel Bolstein

Post Frequency: 9.7/day

Last Entry: December 31, 2013 at 14:53:10

Recent Entries: 253

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US EPA Revises Guidance to Encourage Renewable Energy on Contaminated Land

Posted on December 10, 2012
On December 5, 2012, US EPA issued a 'Revised Enforcement Guidance Regarding the Treatment of Tenants under the CERCLA Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser Provision.'  US EPA undertook this effort to encourage reuse of contaminated properties for renewable energy development...

Vapor Intrusion and Act 2 -- Imperfect Together

Posted on December 03, 2012
Vapor intrusion, the migration of a volatile chemical from subsurface contamination into the indoor air of a building, was not viewed as a significant exposure pathway in 1995 when Act 2 was written into law. It is viewed as significant now...

PADEP's New Permit Decision Guarantee Offers Opportunities Among Challenges

Posted on November 28, 2012
On November 3, 2012, PADEP published notice of final new guidance for its revamped Permit Decision Guarantee Policy, which restructures the environmental permitting process. Last week, Joel highlighted the way the new Permit Decision Guarantee Policy interacts with the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory review; this week, I'm going to discuss how the Permit Decision Guarantee Policy interacts with the Department's existing Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy...

Interplay Between PADEP's Policy on PNDI Coordination and its New Permit Decision Guarantee

Posted on November 19, 2012
In a recent PA Bulletin Notice. PADEP released proposed revisions to its existing policy on PNDI reviews to clarify PNDI coordination within the Department's permit application review process.  For those not familiar with PNDI, it stands for the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory...

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Case to Watch -- Federal Court Allows Challenge to Air Permits that Bypasses Pennsylvania EHB

Posted on October 10, 2012
On September 24, 2012, Judge Robert D. Mariani of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied Ultra Resources, Inc.'s motion to dismiss a citizen suit that challenges the issuance of general air permits for seven natural gas compressor stations (read the decision in its entirety here)...

Pennsylvania DEP Issues Guidance on Air Laws for Marcellus Operations

Posted on October 10, 2012
For several decades, EPA has wrestled with how to define air emissions sources that are near to each other.  EPA has tried to determine whether nearby sites should be 'aggregated' for purposes of determining whether to consider the combined emissions for air permitting thresholds or whether each site stands on its own for purposes of deciding whether regulatory thresholds have been crossed...

PADEP Proposes Changes to NPDES General Permit for Stormwater Construction Activities

Posted on August 29, 2012
In a notice published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on August 18, 2012, PADEP proposes to make revisions to the NPDES general permit (GP) for stormwater construction activities, known as PAG-02.  The notice includes a summary of the proposed changes to the existing GP and solicits comments which must be provided to the Department by September 17, 2012...

Commonwealth Court Declares Local Zoning Preemption in Act 13 Unconstitutional, Null and Void

Posted on July 26, 2012
The Commonwealth Court, in a 4-3 decision,  has declared that the provisions in Act 13 that preempt local zoning are unconstitutional, null and void.   I've read the decision and one thing is still puzzling.  There were 7 judges that heard the case, and 3 filed a dissenting opinion...

Governor Corbett Issues Executive Order 2012-11 Creating Permit Decision Guarantee for PADEP

Posted on July 24, 2012
Earlier today, Governor Tom Corbett issued Executive Order 2012-11 which establishes a permit decision guarantee program for PADEP.  According to the Executive Order, it is designed to build upon the Money-Back guarantee that was put in place by Governor Ridge and Secretary Jim Seif back in 1995...

EHB Rules on Interesting Mine Subsidence Claim

Posted on June 19, 2012
The PA Environmental Hearing Board issued a decision yesterday in an interesting case involving the application of the PA Mine Subsidence Act.   The case involves a claim filed by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) against a mining company for alleged damages to a dam at the Ryerson Station State Park...

Feedback on New Jersey Attempt to Ban Marcellus Waste

Posted on June 18, 2012
In my last posting, I raised some questions about whether it would be legitimate for Pennsylvania lawmakers to reciprocate if New Jersey proceeds to ban Marcellus wastewater or drill cuttings from entering the Garden State.   In addition to the examples I provided, one of our readers pointed out an even more obvious question raised by NJ trying to ban the importation of Marcellus Waste...

New Jersey Assembly Committee Votes to Ban Marcellus Waste

Posted on June 15, 2012
An article in the Harrisburg Patriot News this morning noted that the Environment Committee of the New Jersey State Assembly voted 5-1 to prohibit any facility in the state from receiving Marcellus waste material, including frac water and drill cuttings...

Pitt Releases Study on Marcellus Shale Supply Chain

Posted on June 08, 2012
The University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Business has just released a report titled Understanding the Marcellus Shale Supply Chain.   The report is a must read for small businesses trying to break into the Marcellus Shale industry...

Secretary Krancer Continues to Insist that PADEP Decisions be Guided by Sound Science

Posted on June 07, 2012
It doesn't seem that long ago that I was listening to Governor Tom Ridge give his inaugural address on a snowy January morning in 1995.  When he came to the part in his address about his plans for PADEP, Governor Ridge said that "sound science, not bureaucratic whim, will dictate policy...

Comment Period Closing on PADEP's Proposed Spill Policy for Oil and Gas Operations

Posted on May 11, 2012
The comment period on PADEP's proposed policy entitled "Addressing Spills and Releases from Oil and Gas Wells and Related Operations" closes on May 14.   The proposed policy provides a set of procedures for oil and gas companies to follow in remediating spills at well pad sites...

MFS Decision Upheld by Third Circuit

Posted on April 27, 2012
You will remember the MFS, Inc. jury verdict that found 4 PADEP employees in the NE Regional office liable for $6.5 million dollars for allegedly discriminating against MFS, Inc. and violating their civil rights.  That jury verdict was subsequently thrown out by the Federal District Court judge hearing the case in a lengthy opinion, which I wrote about in an earlier posting...

Bad Actor Provision in Act 13 only applies to PADEP "Final Actions"

Posted on March 30, 2012
Some people may have overlooked the fact that the General Assembly put a "Bad Actor" provision in Act 13 that gives PADEP the right to deny a drilling permit if the permit applicant has outstanding violations.  It's in Section 3211 and it reads as follows: (e...

US Supreme Court Gives Property Owners Right to Obtain Pre-Enforcement Judicial Review of EPA CWA Compliance Orders

Posted on March 22, 2012
In a unanimous decision issued yesterday, the US Supreme Court for the first time gave property owners the right to pursue immediate judicial review of a compliance order issued by EPA under the Clean Water Act.  Up until now, it had been universally understood and accepted that the Clean Water Act precluded pre-enforcement judicial review of EPA compliance orders...

EPA well testing in Dimock finds No Contamination

Posted on March 16, 2012
In an article appearing this morning, it was reported that EPA's first round of samples failed to identify any contamination in 11 residential wells in Dimock.   Why am I not shocked by that?  Probably because I actually believe PADEP and Cabot when they say that they've analyzed prior sampling and it showed that the well water was not contaminated by nearby drilling...

"We are One DEP"

Posted on March 07, 2012
In his recent testimony before the Senate Appropriations budget hearing, Pennsylvania DEP Secretary Mike Krancer told the committee members that one of his central themes, from the outset of his tenure as Secretary, has been to emphasize that the Department is "one DEP"...

PA Marcellus Legislation Brings Several Hammers Down on Local Ordinances

Posted on February 16, 2012
A lot has been said about the preemption of local ordinances contained in the amendments to the PA Oil and Gas Act (HB 1950) recently signed into law by Governor Corbett.  But not much has been said about the multiple hammers given to the oil and gas companies for invalidating those ordinances, including private rights of action, and the ability to collect attorneys fees from the local governments...

SAB Process Subcommittee Begins Year Long Project to Help DEP Revise the Act 2 Technical Guidance Manual

Posted on January 12, 2012
Yesterday I chaired a meeting in Harrisburg of the Process Subcommittee of the Cleanup Standards Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), which has been tasked with helping provide advice to the Department on revising the Act 2 Technical Guidance Manual (TGM)...

Secretary Krancer Lays Down the Law Before Congress

Posted on November 21, 2011
In testimony delivered last week before a Congressional Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., PADEP Secretary Michael Krancer did what a thoughtful judge should do.  He set forth both the facts and the law on the subject of Pennsylvania's regulation of the Marcellus Shale...

DRBC Postpones Vote on Marcellus Regulations

Posted on November 18, 2011
In a press release issued earlier today, the DRBC announced that it is postponing the special meeting it had scheduled for November 21 to vote on its proposed Marcellus regulations.  No new date was provided.  At this point, the uncertainty created by DRBC, and the continued de-facto moratorium resulting from the inability of drillers to obtain permits, has made it very unlikely that any drilling will occur anywhere in the basin even after DRBC issues its regulations...

CSSAB to Provide Input on Revising Act 2 Technical Guidance Manual

Posted on October 30, 2011
On October 28, I was asked to chair the newly reconstituted Process Subcommittee of the PA Cleanup Standards Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), for the express purpose of helping the Department revise the Act 2 Technical Guidance Manual (TGM)...

How Many Bats Does It Take to Stop a Windmill?

Posted on October 20, 2011
We've got many different kinds of bats in Pennsylvania but only one can stop a windmill.  We've got big brown bats, little brown bats, tri-colored bats, hoary bats, small-footed bats, silver-haired bats, northern long ear bats, red bats, evening bats, and an occasional seminole bat...

Three Counties Tops in Marcellus Gas Production

Posted on October 12, 2011
An article appearing in Directions Magazine notes that Bradford, Susquehanna and Greene Counties have the highest producing Marcellus Shale gas wells in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, according to the most recent data.   The same article notes that as of June 30, 2011, there were 1,655 wells reporting gas production, which was a 37% increase over the prior six months...

DRBC Should Use Extra Time to Give Full Consideration to PA's Objections to the Proposed Marcellus Regulations

Posted on October 10, 2011
Natural gas drillers looking to engage in Marcellus Shale exploration and development in northeastern Pennsylvania (mostly Wayne and Pike counties) are going to have to wait a little longer before they can start putting in their applications with the Delaware River Basin Commission...

Governor Corbett's Proposed Marcellus Shale Impact Fee

Posted on October 06, 2011
I worked closely with Dave Hess when he was Executive Deputy Secretary and I was Special Deputy Secretary under Jim Seif and Governor Ridge.  Dave was responsible for PADEP's environmental digest that provided fresh news about activities at the Department and around the state that concerned environmental protection...

Governor Corbett Releases Proposal for Implementing Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission's recommendations

Posted on October 03, 2011
In a news release issued earlier today, Governor Corbett announced his plans for implementing the 94 recommendations previously released by the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.  The recommendations include legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives...

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