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The Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendment in Cities

The Philadelphia Bar Environmental Law Committee, co-chaired by Kaitlyn Maxwell, is hosting a CLE webcast.   

Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Bill of Rights, adopted in 1971, provides a right to “clean air, pure water” and certain environmental values. It also establishes a public trust in all of Pennsylvania’s public natural resources with the Commonwealth as trustee and all the people as the beneficiaries. Section 27 was fairly moribund until decisions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2013 and 2017 gave it new vitality. In the last few years, the courts have considered several cases under section 27, but most of them are about oil and gas development. How does this law translate to environmental issues in an urban setting?

Panelists will answer the following questions regarding Section 27:
  • Is the right procedural (that is, does the government have to consider certain things before granting or denying a permit or grant), or is it substantive (that is, does each person have a right to a certain air or water quality)?
  • What counts as a public natural resource?
  • If the government sells or leases a public natural resource, what happens to the proceeds?
  • How does section 27 affect economic development efforts?
  • How does section 27 interact with environmental justice? 

Attend this program to hear the latest developments regarding the Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendment in urban settings.