A look at what really happened in the PA Supreme Court Robinson Township decision on the Act 13 and oil and gas activities.
Let’s “keep it real” and be reminded of some historical and factual context to yesterday’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in the Robinson Township case. Let’s also get beyond what will be the out of context sound bytes from the decision that will be flouted about to serve various agendas and focus on what really happened, or didn’t happen.
The medical health professionals part of the decision is ironic (perhaps even perverse) on two levels. First, the confidentiality language struck down had actually been brought to the table by two environmental NGOs, namely, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC). They had taken that exact language from an existing Colorado law on this subject. In fact, EDF had lobbied hard, and successfully, to pass that law in Colorado.
Second, the Court actually struck the requirement, indeed the obligation, that vendors provide information to health professionals. A tool that doctors and other health professionals had is no longer available to them.
Next, the eminent domain provision regarding gas storage facilities was not part of some “special deal” for industry in 2012. That provision had been the law of Pennsylvania since 1984! It was part of the Oil and Gas Act carried forward into Act 13.
Moving on to notification to public water suppliers. That provision was requested to be in the Act by DEP. DEP has a ready current list of all public water suppliers, who they are, where they are, and how to contact them, since it regulates them. Obviously no such complete regulatory list exists of private water wells. So no wonder the Act was written to include public but not private water suppliers. In any event, the whole matter is much ado about nothing since DEP requires notice to all affected water users anyway.