• Supreme Court Re-examines the Environmental Rights Amendment
  • July 25, 2017 | Authors: Kevin J. Garber; Blaine A. Lucas
  • Law Firms: Babst Calland - Pittsburgh Office; Babst Calland - State College Office
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected the longstanding test for analyzing claims brought under Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, commonly known as the Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA). In its June 20, decision in Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF) v. Commonwealth, the Supreme Court set aside the test from Payne v. Kassab that has been used since 1973, and held that the Commonwealth’s oil and gas rights are “public natural resources” under the ERA and that any revenues derived from the sale of those resources must be held in trust and expended only to conserve and maintain public natural resources. The Supreme Court’s opinion in PEDF is an important step in the ongoing judicial reexamination of the ERA. However, the impact of the court’s decision on environmental and land use issues beyond the relatively narrow facts of this case remains unclear.