83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013), 63 MAP 2012, Robinson Township Washington County v. Commonwealth

Docket Nº63 MAP 2012, 64 MAP 2012, 72 MAP 2012, 73 MAP 2012
Citation83 A.3d 901
Opinion JudgeCASTILLE, Chief Justice.
Party NameROBINSON TOWNSHIP, WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA; Brian Coppola, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Supervisor of Robinson Township; Township of Nockamixon, Bucks County, PA; Township of South Fayette, Allegheny County, PA; Peters Township, Washington County, PA; David M. Ball, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Councilman of Peters Tow
AttorneyJoshua Martin Bloom, Esq., Jonathan Robert Colton, Joshua M. Bloom and Associates, P.C., for International Union of Operating Engineers, Local No. 66, et al., amicus curiae. Devin John Chwastyk, Esq., McNees, Wallace & Nurick, LLC, for Senator Joseph Scamati, III & Representative Samuel H. Smith,...
Judge PanelCASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, McCAFFERY, ORIE MELVIN, JJ. Former Justice ORIE MELVIN did not participate in the consideration or decision of this matter. Justices TODD and McCAFFERY join the Opinion. Justice BAER joins Parts I, II, IV, V, and VI(A), (B), (D)-(G) of the Opinion. Justi...
Case DateDecember 19, 2013
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

Page 901

83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013)

ROBINSON TOWNSHIP, WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA; Brian Coppola, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Supervisor of Robinson Township; Township of Nockamixon, Bucks County, PA; Township of South Fayette, Allegheny County, PA; Peters Township, Washington County, PA; David M. Ball, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Councilman of Peters Township; Township of Cecil, Washington County, PA; Mount Pleasant Township, Washington County, PA; Borough of Yardley, Bucks County, PA; Delaware Riverkeeper Network; Maya Van Rossum, The Delaware Riverkeeper; Mehernosh Khan, M.D.

v.

COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; Robert F. Powelson, in his Official Capacity as Chairman of the Public Utility Commission; Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania; Kathleen Kane, in her Official Capacity as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and E. Christopher Abruzzo, in his Official Capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Appeal of: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; Robert F. Powelson, in his Official Capacity as Chairman of the Public Utility Commission; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and E. Christopher Abruzzo, in his Official Capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Robinson Township, Washington County, PA; Brian Coppola, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Supervisor of Robinson Township; Township of Nockamixon, Bucks County, PA; Township of South Fayette, Allegheny County, PA; Peters Township, Washington County, PA; David M. Ball, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Councilman of Peters Township; Township of Cecil, Washington County, PA; Mount Pleasant Township, Washington County, PA; Borough of Yardley, Bucks County, PA; Delaware Riverkeeper Network; Maya Van Rossum, The Delaware Riverkeeper; Mehernosh Khan, M.D.

v.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; Robert F. Powelson, in his Official Capacity as Chairman of the Public Utility Commission; Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania; Kathleen Kane, in her Official Capacity as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and E. Christopher Abruzzo, in his Official Capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Appeal of: Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania; Kathleen Kane, in her Official Capacity as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Robinson Township, Washington County, PA; Brian Coppola, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Supervisor of Robinson Township; Township of Nockamixon, Bucks County, PA; Township of South Fayette, Allegheny County, PA; Peters Township, Washington County, PA; David M. Ball, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Councilman of Peters Township; Township of Cecil, Washington County, PA; Mount Pleasant Township, Washington County, PA; Borough of Yardley, Bucks County, PA; Delaware Riverkeeper Network; Maya Van Rossum, The Delaware Riverkeeper; Mehernosh Khan, M.D., Cross-appellants

v.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; Robert F. Powelson, in his Official Capacity as Chairman of the Public Utility Commission; Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania; Kathleen Kane, in her Official Capacity as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and E. Christopher Abruzzo, in his Official Capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Cross-appellees.

Robinson Township, Washington County, PA; Brian Coppola, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Supervisor of Robinson Township; Township of Nockamixon, Bucks County, PA; Township of South Fayette, Allegheny County, PA; Peters Township, Washington County, PA; David M. Ball, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Councilman of Peters Township; Township of Cecil, Washington County, PA; Mount Pleasant Township, Washington County, PA; Borough of Yardley, Bucks County, PA; Delaware Riverkeeper Network; Maya Van Rossum, The Delaware Riverkeeper; Mehernosh Khan, M.D., Cross-appellants

v.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; Robert F. Powelson, in his Official Capacity as Chairman of the Public Utility Commission; Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania; Kathleen Kane, in her Official Capacity as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and E. Christopher Abruzzo, in his Official Capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Cross-appellees.

Nos. 63 MAP 2012, 64 MAP 2012, 72 MAP 2012, 73 MAP 2012

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

December 19, 2013

Argued Oct. 17, 2012.

Appeal from the Order and Opinion of the Commonwealth Court at No. 284 MD 2012, dated July 26, 2012. 52 A.3d 463 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012). Other Court Judge: Dan Pellegrini, President Judge, Bernard L. McGinley, Bonnie Brigance Ledbetter, Robert E. Simpson, Kevin P. Brobson, Patricia A. McCullough, Anne E. Covey, Judges.

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Joshua Martin Bloom, Esq., Jonathan Robert Colton, Joshua M. Bloom and Associates, P.C., for International Union of Operating Engineers, Local No. 66, et al., amicus curiae.

Devin John Chwastyk, Esq., McNees, Wallace & Nurick, LLC, for Senator Joseph Scamati, III & Representative Samuel H. Smith, amicus curiae.

Robert Abraham Jackel, Esq., for Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, amicus curiae.

Matthew Hermann Haverstick, Esq., James J. Rohn, Esq., Mark Edward Seiberling, Esq., Joshua John Voss, Esq., Conrad O'Brien PC, for PA PUC & PA Dept. of Environmental Protection.

Lawrence Henry Baumiller, Esq., Kevin J. Barber, Esq., Blaine Allen Lucas, Esq., Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir, P.C.,

Page 912

for Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, amicus curiae.

Walter A. Bunt Jr., Esq., Christopher R. Nestor, Esq., K & L Gates, LLP, David R. Overstreet, Esq., for PA Indep Oil & Gas; Marcellus Shale Coalition; Markwest Liberty; Penneco Oil; Chesapeake Appalachia, amicus curiae.

Richard Ejzak, Esq., Cohen & Grigsby, P.C., for Duquesne Light Holdings, Inc., amicus curiae.

Lester L. Greevy Jr., Esq., Greevy & Associates, John A. Shoemaker II, Esq., for National Association of Royalty Owners, Pennsylvania Chapter, amicus curiae.

Quin Mikael Sorenson, Esq., Sidney Austin, LLP, Joseph R. Guerra, Esq., for American Petroleum Institute, amicus curiae.

Jeffrey Joseph Norton, Esq., for Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, amicus curiae.

Russell Lane Schetroma, Esq., Kristian Erik White, Esq., Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC, for Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc., amicus curiae.

Patrick Hilary Zaepfel, Esq., Kegel, Kelin, Almy & Grimm, L.L.P., for PA Chamber of Business & Industry; PA Manufacturers' Assoc.; et al., amicus curiae.

John J. Arminas, Esq., Jonathan Mark Kamin, Esq., Goldberg, Kamin & Garvin, John Michael Smith, Esq., Smith Butz, L.L.C., Lauren M. Williams, Esq., Jordan Berson Yeager, Esq., Curtin & Heefner LLP, Jennifer Lynn Fahnestock, Esq., William A. Johnson, Esq., Susan Jill Kraham, Esq., for Robinson Twp; Twp of Nockamixon; Twp of S. Fayette; Peters Twp; Twp of Cecil; Mt. Pleasant Twp; et al.

Howard Greeley Hopkirk, Esq., Kathleen Granahan Kane, Esq., Linda L. Kelly, Esq., John G. Knorr III, Esq., Calvin R. Koons, Esq., Gregory R. Neuhauser, Esq., PA Office of Attorney General, for Commonwealth of PA, Attorney General's Office.

Sarah L. Clark, Esq., David Vincent Vitale, Esq., Nora Winkelman, Esq., for House of Democratic Caucus, amicus curiae.

Scott Everett Coburn, Esq., for State Association of Township Supervisors, amicus curiae.

Mark Forrest Dunkle, Esq., Parkowski, Guerke & Swayze P.A., Katy Dunlap, Esq., for Trout Unlimited Inc., amicus curiae.

Stanley J.A. Laskowski, Esq., Caldwell & Kearns, P.C., David Evenhuis, Esq., for PA State Association of Boroughs, amicus curiae.

Robert P. Ging Jr., Esq., Robert P. Ging, Jr., P.C., for Mountain Watershed Association, amicus curiae.

Deborah Goldberg, Esq., Bridget Lee, Esq., Charles McPhedran, Esq., Berks Gas Truth, et al., amicus curiae.

Claude Joseph Hafner II, Esq., Thomas F. Lebo Jr., Esq., PA Senate, for Members of the Democrat Caucus of the PA Senate, amicus curiae.

Stephen B. Harris, Esq., Daniel Raichel, Esq., Katherine Sinding, Esq., for Bell Acres Borough, East Finley Township, et al., amicus curiae.

Thomas Lizzi, Esq., IP and Internet Law North, L.L.C., for PA Chapter of the American Planning Assoc., amicus curiae.

Patricia L. McGrail, Esq., Matthew David Racunas, Esq., Law Offices of Patricia L. McGrail, L.L.C., for Council of the City of Pittsburgh, amicus curiae.

CASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, McCAFFERY, ORIE MELVIN, JJ.

Page 913

OPINION

CASTILLE, Chief Justice.

Mr. Chief Justice Castille announces the Judgment of the Court. Mr. Chief Justice Castille delivers the Opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, IV, V, and VI(A), (B), (D)-(G), in which Mr. Justice Baer, Madame Justice Todd, and Mr. Justice McCaffery join, and delivers an Opinion with respect to Parts III and VI(C), in which Madame Justice Todd and Mr. Justice McCaffery join.

In this matter, multiple issues of constitutional import arise in cross-appeals taken from the decision of the Commonwealth Court ruling upon...

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135 cases
29 firm's commentaries
  • Ohio Supreme Court Invalidates Local Oil and Gas Regulation
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • 27 Febrero 2015
    ...that the specifics of oil and gas operations are preempted by the Commonwealth’s Oil and Gas Act. See generally Robinson Twp. v. Comm., 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013); Range Resources–Appalachia, LLC v. Salem Twp., 964 A.2d 869 (Pa. 2009); Huntley & Huntley, Inc. v. Oakmont, 964 A.2d 855 (Pa. 2......
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court Improperly Expands the Definition of “Commonwealth” in Article I Section 27 of the Constitution to Include Local Governments
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • 11 Enero 2018
    ...n.23. And what did the Supreme Court use as support for that statement? The Court’s prior decision in Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901, 956-57 (Pa. 2013). But, the problem comes in when you look at that prior decision and the support (or lack thereof) for that Robinson Townshi......
  • Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendment: Back to Payne v. Kassab?
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • 8 Enero 2015
    ...with what the Environmental Rights Amendment requires in the wake of the decision a year ago in Robinson Twp. v. Pub. Util. Comm’n, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013). The Supreme Court plurality in Robinson Township seemed to announce that any part of the commonwealth’s government has to engage in som......
  • The New Environmental Rights Amendment to the New York Constitution
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    • LexBlog United States
    • 8 Noviembre 2021
    ...Court disavowed the Payne test. Pa. Envt’l Def. Found’n v. Commonwealth, 161 A.3d 911 (Pa. 2017); Robinson Twp. v. Pub. Util. Comm’n, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013)(setting forth a history of the Article I, section 27, jurisprudence); see also Pa. Envt’l Def. Found’n v. Commonwealth, No. 64 MAP 201......
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25 books & journal articles
  • An essay: an aspirational right to a healthy environment?
    • United States
    • UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy Vol. 34 Nbr. 2, September 2016
    • 22 Septiembre 2016
    ...Thompson, supra note 97, at 163. (103.) Pa. const. art. 1, [section] 27. (104.) Robinson Twp., Washington Cnty. v. Commonwealth of Pa., 83 A.3d 901, 951 (Pa. 2013). (105.) Id. at 953. The court cited approvingly to Professor John Dernbach's article on the history of Pennsylvania's provision......
  • Atmospheric recovery litigation: making the fossil fuel industry pay to restore a viable climate system.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 45 Nbr. 2, March - March 2015
    • 22 Marzo 2015
    ...G.R. No. 101083, 224 S.C.R.A. 792 (July 30, 1993) (Phil.)). (114) Id. (115) Id. (116) See generally Robinson Twp. v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013) (plurality opinion) (declaring the public trust to be an inherent and inalienable right of citizens). (117) Id. at 948 ("Among the i......
  • The potential meanings of a constitutional public trust.
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    • Environmental Law Vol. 45 Nbr. 2, March - March 2015
    • 22 Marzo 2015
    ...Township. (1) 58 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. [section][section] 2301-3504 (West 2014). (2) Robinson Twp. v. Commonwealth (Robinson Township), 83 A.3d 901 (Pa 2013). (3) Pa. Const, art. I, [section] 27. (4) Id (5) Id. (6) Id. (7) John C. Dernbach et al., Robinson Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsyl......
  • The federal public trust doctrine: misinterpreting Justice Kennedy and Illinois Central Railroad.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 45 Nbr. 2, March - March 2015
    • 22 Marzo 2015
    ...(8) See PPL Montana, 132 S. Ct. at 1226-35. (9) See supra notes 3-6 and accompanying text. (10) E.g., Robinson Twp. v. Pennsylvania, 83 A.3d 901, 948 n. 36 (Pa. 2013) (plurality opinion) ("[C]ertain rights are inherent to mankind, and thus are secured rather than bestowed by the Consti......
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