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宾夕法尼亚州 最高法院 Addresses Agency Deference and the 环境权利修正案 in Ruling on Unconventional Well 钻孔 Regulations

Earlier this month, the 宾夕法尼亚州 最高法院 affirmed in part and reversed in part a preliminary injunction issued by the 宾夕法尼亚州 英联邦法院 with respect to newly promulgated regulations regarding unconventional well drilling. 马塞勒斯页岩煤。 v。Envtl的部门。 Prot。英联邦 115 MAP 2016,2018 WL 2452607(2018年6月1日)。在该决定中,法院驳回了法院在决定对监管机构的初步禁令时应服从监管机构的论点。’有权发布法规,还阐明了它如何解释代理法规中含糊不清和冲突的指控。多数意见是由首席大法官赛勒(Saylor)提出的,除唐纳休法官(Donohue)提出了不同意的意见外,所有其他大法官均将其全部加入。多诺休法官’也许最值得注意的是,她表达了她与英联邦法院的不同意见’s interpretation of Article 1, Section 27 of the 宾夕法尼亚州 Constitution, known as the 环境权利修正案.

马塞勒斯页岩煤。,马塞勒斯页岩联盟(“Coalition”) filed a petition with the 宾夕法尼亚州 英联邦法院, challenging the validity of several regulations relating to unconventional gas well operations, which include hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the 马塞勒斯页岩. The regulations, promulgated on 十月 8, 2016, are governed by 宾夕法尼亚州’s 油和气 Act of 2012, known as Act 13, and contained in Title 25, Chapter 78a of the 宾夕法尼亚州 Administrative Code. Along with the petition, the 联盟 requested a preliminary injunction to stay the challenged regulations pending a ruling regarding their validity. The 联盟 named as respondents the 宾夕法尼亚州 Department of Environmental Protection Agency (“DEP”) as well as the 宾夕法尼亚州 Environmental Quality Board, the agency responsible for adopting DEP’的规定(统称为“Agencies”).

As discussed more fully below, the 联盟 challenged various discrete areas of regulation within Chapter 78a, including, 除其他外, rules pertaining to 公共资源, area of review, impoundments, and site restoration. The 联盟 alleged that the regulations were void and unenforceable for multiple reasons, including that the regulations were vague, lacked statutory authorization, and conflicted with other regulations and statutes applicable to the industry. The 英联邦法院, acting as a trial court, issued a single-judge, unpublished opinion which granted in part and denied in part the 联盟’s requested preliminary injunctive relief. The 联盟 did 不 present any witnesses at the hearing, while DEP presented the testimony of DEP Deputy Secretary for 油和气 Management Scott Perry. At the hearing, Secretary Perry presented information concerning unconventional gas drilling and the substance of the disputed regulations, including the process by which they were finalized.

Because DEP only appealed the parts of the opinion which granted the preliminary injunction, and the 联盟 did 不 file a cross appeal, the 最高法院 addressed only those portions of the regulations for which the preliminary injunction was granted. While each of these counts are discussed below, it is first worth discussing the 最高法院’确定适用于此类初步禁令请愿书的适当标准。 

作为初步事项,宾夕法尼亚州最高法院驳回了这些机构’关于联邦法院未能采用适当标准制定初步禁令的一般论点,因为下级法院没有充分尊重机构。这些机构断言,在裁定依据某机构通过的法规的有效性时’的规则制定权,法院采用三部分测试,以确保法规在机构内部通过(1)’法定权力; (2)按照适当程序签发; (3)合理。这些机构着眼于第三分支,认为只有在恶意制定或以其他方式武断或严重滥用酌处权的情况下,该法规才被认为是不合理的。这些机构进一步指出,在审查合理性规定时,法院应对代理机构施加相同程度的尊重’在执行后对法规的质疑中,应在对初步禁令进行审查时解释其授权法规。

最高法院 rejected the 代理商’ argument, 不ing that a legislative rule is only valid if it falls within the scope of rulemaking power granted by the 宾夕法尼亚州 General Assembly. 在 the context of a motion for a preliminary injunction, a court does 不 need to decide the merits of the petitioner’的实质性主张。相反,要获得挑战者必须证明的初步禁令, 除其他外,是否“重大法律问题”存在,必须解决以确定各方’权利和义务。法院发现,此标准暗示相对于代理机构而言,递减标准较低’对管辖法规的解释比适用于法院的解释’最终价值决定。  

Having addressed the applicable standard, the 最高法院 then reviewed each of the 联盟’英联邦法院批准的初步禁令。这些都是伯爵和最高法院’的规则,下面将简要讨论。

  • 计数 I – Public Resources

在第I项中,联盟辩称,该法规不允许将保护资源的范围扩大到第13号法案的范围之外。该法规的第78a.15(f)条要求,钻探申请人在钻探范围内一定距离内进行钻探时应提供预申请通知。“public resources.” The term “public resources”未在法规中定义,但通过引用包括在内“学校的公共区域’的财产或游乐场” and “其他重要社区。” The term “其他重要社区”在法规中定义为包括动植物“species of concern”由宾夕法尼亚州确定’的自然多样性清单(“PNDI”)。英联邦法院认为联盟提出了“实质性法律问题”关于各机构是否对...进行了过于广泛的解释“public resources”在第13号法案中,颁布了一项法规,其中包括向公众开放的私人资源,例如运动场和学校的公共区域。

最高法院 affirmed the 英联邦法院’的发现并被下级法院引用’观察到如此广泛的解释“public resources” could justify the inclusion of places like shopping centers, movie theaters, and sports stadiums, all of which are likely 不 contemplated by Act 13. 最高法院 also 不ed the lower court’的理由是《环境权利修正案》规定英联邦必须保护“上市 自然资源”而不是私人资源。因此,人们提出了一个实质性的问题,即将第13号法案解释为授权使用规章制度的做法是适当的,该规章制度吸收了向公众开放的私人资源。  

Further, while Act 13 indicated that 公共资源 included habitats of rare and endangered species, and “其他重要社区,”佩里国务卿在英联邦法院作证说,将某个物种指定为受威胁或濒危物种的过程是经过严格的程序进行的,其中包括通知和评论。相反,“species of concern”PNDI数据库中标识的,不需要这样的规则制定过程。因此,最高法院裁定,尽管它尚未对该问题做出最终裁决,但它同意英联邦法院的观点,即至少在这一点上已经提出了实质性的法律问题。 

  • 伯爵二– Area of Review

在 计数 II, the 联盟 raised a number of challenges with respect to portions of the regulations which require well operators to identify, monitor, and remediate certain gas and oil wells within a certain distance from the operator’s well bore. 看到 第78a.52a,78.73(c)和(d)节。该规则旨在解决DEP’s concern with the unintentional migration of fluids and other materials associated with unconventional drilling from the target well to nearby orphan, abandoned, or plugged wells. While the 英联邦法院 rejected most of the 联盟’s challenges to these rules, it granted a preliminary injunction with respect to the 联盟’关于条款产生的论点“重大实施”条款规定井运营商必须“trespass”到相邻的土地上以解决附近的水井。

On appeal, the 代理商 argued that ordering well operators to access nearby private land was within their statutory power, since the 宾夕法尼亚州 清洁流法 allowed the 代理商 to order landowners to provide access to their land. 最高法院 affirmed the 英联邦法院’的初步禁令,指出根据《清洁河流法》,DEP可以命令土地所有者仅在土地所有者有危险或实际污染的情况下才允许进入其财产’s property. The regulations requiring monitoring activities did 不 require such a pollution event and, therefore, a 实质性法律问题 remained regarding the validity and implantation issues of the monitoring provisions.  

  • 计数 IV – Impoundments

在 计数 IV, the 联盟 challenged several portions of the regulations relating to both 良好的发展 蓄水池和 集中 impoundments. The 英联邦法院 explained that 良好的发展 impoundments are used to store freshwater for use in drilling operations, while 集中 impoundments store wastewater generated during drilling activities. The 联盟 alleged, 除其他外,新规定对第78a.59b节和第78a.59c节中的新开发井和现有开发井的水库提出了繁重的新要求,其中包括要求在2017年10月8日之前升级现有开发井的水库,以符合新的施工标准新的建筑标准要求,蓄水池必须用合成的防渗衬里建造,并用围栏围起来,或者由个人进行连续监控,以防止第三方或野生动植物造成损害。联盟断言,现行成文法没有任何变化,授权DEP可以追溯更改几年前依靠DEP建造的水库的建造标准。’的事先授权。联盟还争辩说,法规要求根据宾夕法尼亚州的规定,在一定日期之前关闭或重新允许集中扣押’的《固体废物管理法》。

The 英联邦法院 determined that a 实质性法律问题 existed based on the 联盟’关于必须按照先前的DEP法规建造的蓄水池现在必须关闭或升级以满足新的建造标准的主张。英联邦法院在准予该规则的初步禁令时还指出,佩里部长作证说,新规则并非源于法律的变化,而是源于DEP的变化。’对长期法律的解释。法院进一步指出,改造水库的费用是巨大的,而且可能无法收回,从而造成了无法弥补的损害。

On appeal, the 代理商 did 不 argue that the authorizing statutes had changed as necessary for them to issue different construction standards. Rather, the 代理商 argued that they have authority to alter the construction standards pursuant to the rulemaking process and to apply the new requirements retroactively, without violating due process. 最高法院 affirmed in part and overturned in part the preliminary injunction with respect to these provisions by differentiating between the regulations as applied to 良好的发展 蓄水池和 集中 impoundments.

关于集中扣押,最高法院裁定英联邦法院适当裁定提出了实质性法律问题,因为佩里部长’证词表明,代理商’关于授权法规的解释已更改。但是,法院发现,以前对发展良好的水库只进行了最低限度的管制,因此,记录中几乎没有证据表明这些机构已经重新解释了授权法规。而是常任秘书长佩里’在下级法院的证词中,各机构确定,由于新的良好发展的蓄水库的规模之大,使其类似于大坝,这使得该蓄水库受到宾夕法尼亚州的适当监管’《大坝安全与侵占法》。最高法院指出,英联邦法院的出发点是各机构’规约的解释发生了变化,但有关扣押的情况并非如此,因此下级法院未能查明实质性的法律问题。

  • 计数V– Site Restoration

在Count V中,联盟对法规的第78a.65节提出了质疑,该法规对恢复在建造钻井时受到干扰的陆地表面积提出了要求。与先前的指控一样,联盟在阐明其认为法规无效且不可执行的几个理由时,英联邦法院发现,只有一项索赔提出了实质性的法律问题。英联邦法院认为,联盟对部分实施某些侵蚀和沉积物控制措施的法规是否放弃了根据《清洁河流法》颁布的法规所规定的豁免规定提出了实质性法律疑问。联盟特别指出,钻井法规第78a.65(d)条与第102.8(n)条相抵触–根据《清洁河流法》颁布–因为前者强加了某些侵蚀和沉积物控制措施,超出了102.8(n)节的要求。

On appeal, the 代理商 argued that the newly promulgated drilling regulations and the 清洁流法 regulation did 不 conflict. Rather, the new regulation provided clarity between site restoration under Section 78a.65 and compliance with Section 102.8(n). 最高法院 agreed, finding that Section 78a.65(d) requiring erosion and sediment controls applied only to impervious surfaces and disturbed areas 已经包含在站点恢复中,而第102.8(n)节中的豁免适用于站点恢复计划的特定部分。法院指出,尽管这两个规定之间可能存在不一致之处,但第78a.65(d)条缩小了第102.8(n)条的范围,因为第78a.65(d)条专门适用于非常规气井场。法院进一步指出,即使两个法规之间存在冲突,第78a.65(d)节也比第102.8(n)条优先,因为它更具体(仅适用于非常规气井场),并在后来颁布。 。

多诺休法官’同意和反对意见

多诺休法官在她的不同意见中表示同意,’s opinion with respect to 良好的发展 蓄水池和 site restoration, but dissented with respect to the preliminary injunction issued with respect to the regulations governing 公共资源, areas of review, and 集中 impoundments. Perhaps most 不ably, 多诺休法官 disagreed with the 英联邦法院’对《环境权利修正案》的解释,她认为这不当地限制了英联邦’的义务是仅保护位于政府实体拥有的土地上的自然资源(见上文第1项)。注意到该修正案强调“Pennsylvania’公共自然资源是所有人的共同财产,”Donohue法官辩称,有争议的自然资源不是不动产,而是“公众享有休闲娱乐的环境健康开放空间。”

最高法院’s majority opinion is 不able for its rejection of the 代理商’要求对初步禁令及其英联邦法院的默许予以尊重’对《环境权利修正案》的解释。此外,多诺休法官’s opinion provides additional insight on her more expansive view of the 环境权利修正案, a hot-topic issue that will continue to be shaped by 宾夕法尼亚州 caselaw