Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Protect PT: Commonwealth Court Vacates Penneco Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well Permit, Remanding It To Plum Boro For Additional Fact Finding In Allegheny County

On January 29,
Protect PT announced Commonwealth Court issued an opinion vacating the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County’s order affirming the decision of the Plum Zoning Hearing Board [Allegheny County] and remanding the Penneco Environmental Solutions, LLC Sadat 4a oil and gas wastewater injection well approval back to the Plum Borough Zoning Hearing Board. 

The order requires the Zoning Hearing Board to make additional findings of fact or to conduct further hearings to establish such facts prior to granting Penneco’s request to expand its injection well operations in Plum Borough.

The Commonwealth Court held that, while Penneco has a constitutional right to the natural expansion of its non-conforming injection well, that right is not without limitations. 

It stated that first, Penneco must present evidence that the expansion is a matter of “necessity… as the dictates of business and modernization require” (emphasis in the original). 

“‘[T]he expansion or modernization [must be] a matter of necessity for the business rather than merely to take advantage of an increase in business’ for the doctrine to be triggered.”

Second, “the right to natural expansion is not unlimited, the contemplated expansion must not be detrimental to the public health, welfare, and safety” (emphasis in the original). “[A] municipality certainly can condition such expansion on certain prerequisites and standards necessary for the preservation of the health, safety, and welfare of the community” (emphasis in the original).

Third, the court observed that the General Standards for all Conditional Uses or Special Exceptions require that the applicant, Penneco, comply with all requirements of “this” (the complete Plum Borough) Ordinance.

It requires the applicant to show “that the traffic from the proposed use will be accommodated in a safe and efficient manner… and that the proposed use shall not create a significant hazard to the public health, safety, and welfare.” 

The court noted that the Zoning Hearing Board made “no findings with respect to traffic, and no specific finding with respect to health, safety, and general welfare” (emphasis in the original).

Early in the opinion, the Commonwealth Court noted that the members of the Zoning Hearing Board stated, on the record, that they believed that they were powerless to stop Penneco from expanding their injection well, and would be required by the courts to grant Penneco their permit. 

The Court stated: “Despite its perception to the contrary, the Zoning Hearing Board was not powerless-consistent with Silver [decision] and the Ordinance-- to apply the requirements of the natural expansion doctrine and the plain terms of the Ordinance to regulate the location of the proposed expansion of the nonconforming use at issue here. It erred in believing otherwise.”

The matter is now back before the Zoning Hearing Board to determine whether Penneco is entitled to expand its injection well in Plum Borough.

Click Here for a copy of the opinion.  Questions should be directed to James Cirilano at: james@protectpt.org

Visit the Protect PT website for more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and more.

Protect Penn-Trafford is a citizen's group working to ensure the safety, security, and quality of life from the effects of unconventional gas development in Penn-Trafford and surrounding communities in Westmoreland and Allegheny Counties. 

Related Articles - Injection Wells:

-- Marcellus Drilling News: DEP Approves Catalyst Energy Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well In McKean County [Jan. 26 Inspection Found Gas Bubbling From Well]

-- Republican Rep. Krupa Introduces HB 1656 To Ban Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Wells To Protect The Public From Radioactive, Toxic Materials  [PaEN]

-- Marcellus Drilling News: DEP Approves Catalyst Energy Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well In McKean County  [Jan. 26 Inspection Found Gas Bubbling From Well]  [PaEN]

-- Roulette Oil & Gas LLC Withdraws Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well Application In Potter County  [PaEN]

-- Comments Submitted On Proposed Roulette Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well In Potter County By Save Our Streams PA Show Principals Have Been Involved In Abandoning 8 Previous Injection Wells  [PaEN]

-- PA General Energy Announced It Will Plug Proposed Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well In Grant Twp., Indiana County  [PaEN]

-- EPA: G2 STEM LLC Withdraws Application For Oil/Gas Wastewater Underground Injection Well Permit In Fayette County  [PaEN]

-- EPA Approves Permit For Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Well In Plum Boro, Allegheny County; 30 Days To File Appeal  [PaEN]

-- EPA Issues Permit For Class IID Oil & Gas Waste Underground Injection Well In Jefferson County [PaEN]

-- DEP Posts Solicitation For Bids To Plug 23 Abandoned Conventional Oil & Gas Waste Injection Wells Owned By ARG Resources, Inc. And Pennzoil Company In Elk County  [PaEN]

-- DEP To Submit Letter Of Intent To EPA As Early As This Week For Primacy To Regulate Underground Injection Wells  [PaEN]

[Posted: January 30, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner