Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wayne Land & Mineral Group, LLC v. Delaware River Basin Commission

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 5, 2017

WAYNE LAND AND MINERAL GROUP, LLC Plaintiff,
v.
DELAWARE RIVER BASIN COMMISSION Defendant, and DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER NETWORK MAYA K. VAN ROSSUM, THE DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER Intervenors-Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is a Motion to Intervene filed by Senators Joseph B. Scarnati, Lisa Baker and Gene Yaw (collectively, the "Senators"). The Senators "move to intervene as parties plaintiff in the above-captioned matter as of right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) or, in the alternative, by permission pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b)(1)(B)." (Doc. 35, at 3). For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

         I. INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 17, 2016, Plaintiff Wayne Land & Mineral Group LLC filed a Complaint against Defendant Delaware River Basin Commission (the "DRBC"). (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff asks the Court to enter a declaratory judgment holding that the DRBC lacks jurisdiction or the authority to require it to seek prior approval from the DRBC for Plaintiffs intended plan to construct a well pad and drill a natural gas well on property which Plaintiff owns in Wayne County, Pennsylvania (75 acres of which is located in the Delaware River Basin).

         Intervenors-Defendants the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Maya K. Van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper (collectively referred to as the "DRN") filed a motion to intervene on July 5, 2015, (Doc. 10), which the Court granted on September 12, 2016.[1] (Doc. 26). On October 11, 2016, the Senators, in their official capacities, filed a Motion to Intervene. (Doc. 35). The DRBC and the DRN both oppose the Senators* Motion. (Docs. 44, 46).

         II. STATEMENT OF FACTS

         The Delaware River Basin Compact (the "Compact") is an interstate compact dated November 2, 1961, by and among the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, New York State, New Jersey, Delaware, and the United States. (Doc. 11, at 2). The purpose of the Compact is the conservation, utilization, development, management and control of the water and related resources of the Delaware River Basin. (Id.) (citing 32 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 815.101). The Compact created the Defendant DRBC, which is tasked with the adoption and promotion of uniform and coordinated policies for water conservation, control, use and management in the Delaware River Basis. (Id.).

         The Pennsylvania Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives comprise the Pennsylvania General Assembly. (Doc. 35, at ¶ 6). Senator Scamati is an elected member of the Pennsylvania Senate, representing the 25th Senatorial District. (Id. at ¶ 7). He is also the President Pro Term of the Pennsylvania Senate. (Id.). Senator Baker is an elected member of the Pennsylvania Senate who represents the 20th Senatorial District. (Id. at ¶ 8). Senator Yaw is also an elected member of the Pennsylvania Senate, representing the 23rd Senatorial District. (Id. at ¶9). According to the Senators:

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has enacted a comprehensive set of laws and related regulations that govern activities related to drilling for natural gas in shale formations in Pennsylvania, including laws that address the development of gas well pads, gas wells and related facilities and activities. See 58 Pa. C.S. § 3201, et seq.
These laws and regulations require that any persons seeking to construct well pads or related facilities, and to engage in drilling activities, must obtain permits and approvals from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Notwithstanding this comprehensive statutory and regulatory framework duly enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, DRBC, through its interpretation of Section 3.8 of the Compact, has taken upon itself the role of arbiter of who may construct well pads or related facilities and engage in related drilling activities in those parts of Pennsylvania that are contained in the Basis.

(Id. at ¶¶ 10-12).

         The DRBC's conduct, according to the Senators, usurps "the authority of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including the Pennsylvania Senate, to enact laws that permit commercial activities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under certain defined circumstances." (Id. at ¶ 13). The Senators also claim that the DRBC's conduct seeks "to abrogate laws duly enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including the Pennsylvania Senate, to permit the development of gas well pads, gas wells and related facilities and that also allow drilling for natural gas in shale formations." (Id.). Because the DRBC is, according to the Senators, "improperly trampling on the legislative authority of the Pennsylvania General Assembly including the Pennsylvania Senate, " (Id. at ¶ 17), they "seek to intervene as plaintiffs in this action to protect the authority and legislative prerogative of the Pennsylvania Senate and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to regulate commercial activities in Pennsylvania by duly enacting laws that govern such activities." (Id. at ¶ 20).

         III. ANALYSIS

         The Senators move to intervene as of right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2). Alternatively, the Senators seeks permissive intervention pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b)(1)(B). The DRBC and the DRN oppose the Senators' Motion. (Docs. 44, 46).

         A. Intervention As of Right

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) governs intervention as of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.