United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
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
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
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).
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. (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).
STATEMENT OF FACTS
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.).
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
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).
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 ¶
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).
Intervention As of Right
Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) governs intervention as of