Environmental Law

State Courts & AGs

Docket Watch: PA Supreme Court Reinvigorates State's 1971 Environmental Rights Amendment

Joel R. Burcat, Andrew T. Bockis August 04, 2017

In Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth,[1] the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the standard that had been applied by the courts since 1973 when they review governmental determinations under Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment (“ERA”). In so doing, the Court effectively re-set and re-established the ERA which was ratified in 1971.

Imagine taking a relic of 1971, plucking it out of that time, and dropping it down in 2017. Would it seem out of place? Would it have any relationship to the current social and political climate? For most of its history, Pennsylvania’s ERA had virtually no significant impact and was considered by the courts to be mostly aspirational. Until now.

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