For Immediate Release
May 15, 2019
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement today in response to the state Supreme Court’s dismissal of an appeal in the case of Dolores Frederick, et al, v. Allegheny Township Zoning Hearing Board. The appeal sought reconsideration of a Commonwealth Court decision that upheld a local municipality’s zoning ordinance to allow oil and gas drilling. The PA Chamber had filed an amicus brief to the Commonwealth Court case representing the interests of its broad array of members.
“We applauded both the outcome and the reasoning of the Commonwealth Court’s majority decision in this case, and we are pleased the Supreme Court has allowed that decision to stand. This decision provides greater certainty to job creators looking to invest, operate and expand in the Commonwealth, and clarifies the roles of local and state government with respect to environmental regulation.
“As we noted previously, the Commonwealth Court agreed with the PA Chamber’s brief in recognizing that the Environmental Rights Amendment does not trump property rights – including the right to make reasonable use of private property. The court also agreed with the PA Chamber that the ERA does not impose a mandatory obligation on government to zone. The court made clear that the legislature gave the power to regulate environmental impacts to DEP and other state agencies, not municipalities. Further, the opinion adopted a key theme of the Chamber’s brief: government agencies may not rely on the Environmental Rights Amendment as justification for acting beyond the scope of their statutory authority.
“To be clear, tremendous strides have been made with respect to improving air and water quality over the past several decades, as Pennsylvania has made greater use of its abundant natural resources – including nuclear, coal, oil, gas, wind, solar and other renewables. Our members remain committed to ensuring this progress continues; a key part of this sustained progress is ensuring that state and federal law is implemented in a reasonable manner. This decision should provide further foundation for both the aim and limit of government agencies exercising their statutorily defined powers.”
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.