Citation:

Great Lakes Energy Partners, Penneco Oil Company, CB Energy, Inc. and Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania v. Salem Township
931 A.2d 101 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2007).

Summary:
A Township’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance regulations relating to oil and gas operations were preempted by the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act.
Case Details:

In September 2005, Salem Township (the “Township”) enacted an ordinance relating to surface and land development associated with oil and gas drilling operations.  Great Lakes Energy Partners, Penneco Oil Company, CB Energy, Inc. and Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania (the “Companies”) filed a complaint challenging the ordinance on the basis that it was in violation of the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) and that the regulations were preempted by the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, The Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, The Federal Energy Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.  The parties both filed motions for summary judgment.

While the motions were pending, the Township enacted a comprehensive Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO). The SALDO supplanted the previous ordinance and Appendix B of the SALDO readopted the oil and gas regulations with only a minimal changes.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Companies and found that the Oil and Gas Act preempted the oil and gas regulations in Appendix B of SALDO.   The Township appealed arguing that the court should have examined the SALDO on a provision-by-provision basis, rather than finding the entire SALDO invalid.

The Commonwealth Court agreed that the provisions relating to oil and gas regulations were preempted by the Oil and Gas Act, but declared that the regulations that were preempted were limited to those in Article I of Appendix B of the SALDO.

Date of Decision: 8/9/07

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