Pennsylvania: Protect PT will appeal fracking decision to state’s Supreme Court

Protect PT will appeal fracking decision to Pa. Supreme Court by Patrick Varine, May 14, 2021,

Environmental group Protect PT is expected to make its case to state’s highest court next week, arguing that zoning board decisions allowing additional gas well fracking in Penn Township should be overturned.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. May 19, and will be streamed live at

Protect PT is asserting that the Commonwealth Court’s rejection of its previous challenge “was in capricious disregard of the evidence standard and creates an issue of such substantial public importance that it requires prompt and definitive resolution by the … Supreme Court.”

The appeal stems from Protect PT’s challenge of the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board’s decision to grant special exceptions for the development of two fracking well pads.

The state Supreme Court’s decision affects applications for two well pads proposed by Olympus Energy of Canonsburg. They would be the 10th and 11th well pads permitted in the township, including three owned by Olympus and eight owned by Wexford-based Apex Energy.

“When the township allowed over 50% of the land to be available for oil and gas development, something they failed to understand is that this industry will develop anywhere and as much as they are able, no matter the risk to human health,” said Protect PT’s Executive Director Gillian Graber.

Olympus officials declined to comment on the upcoming hearing.

Protect PT has argued the township zoning ordinance is at odds with its comprehensive plan, which promotes the development of a suburban, residential community. Allowing fracking in much of the township puts residential development at risk, the group said.

The township and gas companies countered that traditional drilling has long been allowed in the township, with fewer restrictions than fracking, and that fracking is actually allowed in less than 10% of the township.

On May 10, a group with a similar aim, the Murrysville Watch Committee, made its case for overturning Murrysville’s fracking ordinance to the state’s Commonwealth Court.

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