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PENNSYLVANIA INDEPENDENT PETROLEUM PRODUCERS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/07/86)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: February 7, 1986.

PENNSYLVANIA INDEPENDENT PETROLEUM PRODUCERS, A NON-PROFIT CORPORATION, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND NICHOLAS DE BENEDICTIS, SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENTS

Original jurisdiction in case of Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers, a Non-Profit Corporation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources and Nicholas De Benedictis, Secretary of Environmental Resources of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Thomas L. Cooper, with him, Alfred S. Pelaez, Gilardi, Cooper & Gismondi, P.A., for petitioner.

Jerome T. Foerster, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Allen C. Warshaw, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judges Rogers, Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Colins and Palladino.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 52]

The Commonwealth has filed preliminary objections, in the nature of a demurrer, to a complaint for declaratory and equitable relief brought by the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers (PIPP).*fn1 The complaint challenges the constitutionality of the Oil and Gas Act of 1984 (Act).*fn2

[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 53]

The Commonwealth contends that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because the Act is a valid exercise of its police power and its duty to protect the environment. It also contends that the action is not ripe, as the Act has yet to be enforced in regard to PIPP's drilling operations.

[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 54]

We have reviewed the parties' able briefs and, after entertaining oral argument before the Court en banc, overrule the preliminary objections. The complaint presents several justiciable issues concerning the validity of certain provisions of the Act,*fn3 the impact of which presents sufficient direct and immediate injury for this Court to entertain jurisdiction at this time. Arsenal Coal Co. v. Department of Environmental Resources, 505 Pa. 198, 477 A.2d 1333 (1984).

Per Curiam Order

Now, this 7th day of February, 1986, it is ordered that the Commonwealth's preliminary objections are overruled. The Commonwealth is directed to file an answer to the petition within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order.

Disposition

Preliminary objections overruled. Commonwealth ordered to file answer within thirty days.


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