PA Legal Resources

 Pennsylvania Constitution Art. 1. Sec. 27. Natural Resources and the Public Estate - The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

There are many ways that working people can push back the gas industry every day by exercising our rights. In Pennsylvania, some of those are community enforcement, permit objections, workplace safety monitoring, the courts, local legislation, shareholder divestment, and regulatory appeal boards.

Remember, each gas well costs an average of $4 million and the more a company has to spend navigating the obstacles we throw up along the way, the more expensive drilling becomes and less of it there will be. If we all focus on being a pain in their butts, we can cost them enough that drilling is less lucrative and they will walk away from the areas with most resistance or risk an exodus of shareholders on Wall Street. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know, so don’t forget to tell the local news about your work!


There are regulatory departments in Pennsylvania that oversee different aspects of gas drilling. When you see any suspicious activities such as dumping, dying animals, contaminated tap water, or illness, you can contact these agencies and notify them. In addition to following water trucks around, to make the most out of this strategy, your local community group can set up patrol areas to look for violations, a local reporting hotline using Google Voice or phone chain, or sting operations to occur all at once at a drilling or waste dumping site. It is important to note that these departments serve at the pleasure of the governor and under Rendell's administration, got us into the mess we're in.  It's hard to believe that Corbett's administration will be any better. Take your own video, pictures, and samples if you can.

DEP Bureau of Oil and Gas Management:

Harrisburg Headquarters: Telephone 717-772-2199

Northwest Regional Office, Meadville, PA  814-332-6860 

Northcentral Regional Office, Williamsport, PA  570-327-3636

Southwest Regional Office, Pittsburgh, PA  412-442-4024

PA Fish and Boat Commission:
- Oversees surface water, illegal dumping, endangered and protected amphibians, reptiles, and fish.

Headquarters – Harrisburg
1601 Elmerton Avenue
PO Box 67000
Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000

Northeast Region Office
5566 Main Road
Sweet Valley, PA 18656
(570) 477-5717

Southwest Region Office
236 Lake Road
Somerset, PA 15501
(814) 445-8974

Northwest Region Office
11528 State Highway 98
Meadville, PA 16335
(814) 337-0444

Pleasant Gap Office (Central PA Region)
450 Robinson Lane
Pleasant Gap, PA 16823
(814) 359-5100

PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources:
- Oversees state forests, endangered and protected plants
General Information: (717) 787-2869

PA Game Commssion:
- Oversees habitat, health of mammals and birds including endangered and protected species.

Post Office Box 31
Franklin, PA 16323
(814) 432-3187

4820 Route 711
Bolivar, PA 15923
(724) 238-9523

Post Office Box 5038
Jersey Shore, PA 17740-5038
(570) 398-4744

Post Office Box 220
Dallas, PA 18612-0220
(570) 675-1143

8627 William Penn Highway
Huntingdon, PA 16652
(814) 643-1831


While DEP permits are being reviewed, at any time, we can object to them, which builds strength if further legal action is taken. The PA DEP issues daily ENotice reports via e-mail on all of their dealings with permits. You can sign up to receive specific counties' updates in a daily digest. Be forewarned, it may make you very upset to see how fast the permits are dealt out:

While not every oil and gas permit on that website is for a Marcellus well or one that will use hydraulic fracturing, you can call your regional DEP Bureau of Oil & Gas Management (above) permitting office to do a 'file review' of permit applications to find out what kind of a well it will be. There is currently an effort to allow file reviews to be done online, so make sure you mention what an inconvenience it is to have to travel to review them in person, especially if you're someone with a bad temper like me who dreads meeting the DEP crooks who permit fracking on a daily basis.

At any point, you can file a written objection to a permit application by mailing it to the regional DEP Bureau of Oil & Gas Management permitting office (above).

One strong objection we can make is any drilling near designated protected areas or habitat. Before permitting, the DEP is charged with considering the Pennsylvania National Heritage Program (PNHP) sites and protected and endangered species listed here:

You can also go outside and search for protected or endangered species habitat in areas slated to be drilled such as state forests and public parks, fill out this reporting form when you find them, and add to the PNHP areas where fracking is supposed to be off limits. Follow this link:

Send the completed form to:

Andrew Rohrbaugh
Environmental Review Specialist
Ecological Services, Bureau of Forestry, PA DCNR


It's important that all of us who have loved ones in the industry make sure that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is notified when they notice dangers on the job. Thanks to the strength of unions in the past, some of the strongest laws that apply to gas drilling are those that protect workers. On the job, workers who haul for the companies are often driving unsafe trucks with unknown contents, roughnecks on the sites are exposed to toxic chemicals, and aging equipment can break or fail to alert workers of hydrogen sulfide leaks and blowouts. To make the situation worse, there aren't any unions in the industry to stick up for the folks taking these dangerous, temporary jobs.

Occupational Health and Safety Administration
Allentown Area Office
850 North 5th Street
Allentown, Pennsylvania 18102
(610) 776-0592
(610) 776-1913 FAX

Erie Area Office
1128 State Street, Suite 200
Erie, Pennsylvania 16501
(814) 461-1492
(814) 461-1498 FAX

Harrisburg Area Office
Progress Plaza
49 North Progress Avenue
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17109-3596
(717) 782-3902
(717) 782-3746 FAX

Pittsburgh Area Office
U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA
William Moorhead Federal Building, Room 905
1000 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 395-4903
(412) 395-6380 FAX

Wilkes-Barre Area Office
The Stegmaier Building, Suite 410
7 North Wilkes-Barre Boulevard
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-5241
(570) 826-6538
(570) 821-4170 FAX

Industrial Workers of the World, SW PA Safety Committee - 
We are a union for all workers. To the best of our ability, we will advise and/or come out to the site to monitor safety standards for workers who call us.

Alex Lotorto, 570-269-9589,
Ken Miller, 412-867-9213,


By far, the two most effective organizations working on local legislation to restrict fracking are the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and the Energy Justice Network. CELDF primarily works on ban ordinances that cite the basic rights of people and nature as reasons why drilling may not occur. EJN has focused more on super-strict air pollution ordinances that effectively ban drilling.

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund -
Ben Price, Projects Director: and (717) 254-3233, (717) 254-3233

Energy Justice Network -
1434 Elbridge St, Philadelphia, PA 19149 | 215-743-4884 | 


FACT: The use of hydraulic fracturing is not enabled by poor and working class people paying their gas bills or driving their cars, like apartheid in South Africa, it’s fueled by a Wall Street frenzy, coupled with government inaction, that has lured billions of dollars of investment money into building new pipelines, rigs, and facilities to extract and process Marcellus shale gas for export. In fact, the Marcellus industry is not a commodities market, it is a manufacturing market (if you know the difference). Their profits aren't from selling the gas, which is at its lowest price in decades, it's from inflated stocks meant for getting the gas and if there's anything we know about stock market bubbles, it's that they pop.

By publicly organizing members of your institutions to support divestment, you can have a larger financial impact on the frackers than just simply not paying your gas bill. There are three primary ways your church, union, business, camp, college, or university can divest from the Marcellus Shale gas industry.

The first, is to simply say NO to leasing your organizations’ land. The second is to divest pension, general fund, and endowment money from the industry. This is commonly known as Socially Responsible Investing. The third is to use your institutions’ shareholder rights to vote on proxy and acquisition votes at shareholder meetings. For example, this May, Chevron shareholders will vote yes or no on Chevron’s acquisition of Atlas Energy, one of the biggest frackers in Pennsylvania. That’s a perfect opportunity for you to vote NO.

Responsible Endowment Coalition - for students
641 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 300
New York, NY 10011
Phone: 215.564.2201

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility - for faith-based organizations
Suite 1842
475 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10115
phone: 212-870-2295
fax: 212-870-2023

Social Investment Forum - for Socially Responsible Investing information
910 17th St NW Suite 1000,
Washington, DC 20006 

Trillium Assets Management
711 Atlantic Ave
Boston, MA 02111-2809
Fax: 617-482-6179


While most of us aren’t lawyers, if God forbid we ever need to sue for damages because of a gas drilling mishap, it’s important that we have our water tested and our t’s crossed before, during, and after drilling. Here is a list of independent water testing companies you can use to do just that. If you are in financial difficulty and need help paying for your water test, check out for help.

B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. - an independent water testing company.
Mr. Brian Oram - Professional Geologist, Soil Scientis, PA Sewage Enforcement Officer, Licensed Water Well Driller
15 Hillcrest Drive Dallas, PA 18612
Phone (570) 675 - 0253
Fax (570) 675 - 0253

Other Water Testing Labs:

Aqua - Tech Laboratory,  Mountaintop. PA

Hawk Moutain Laboratories , Hazleton, PA

Kirby Memorial Health Center , Wilkes-Barre, PA
570- 822-4278

Northeastern Environmental Laboratories , Scranton ,PA
570- 348-0775

Quantum Analytical and Environmental Laboratories , Dickson City, PA

Seewald Laboratories Inc. , Williamsport, PA


I’m saving the best for last because it takes the most commitment, but provides the best payoff.

Every citizen has legal standing in front of the PA DEP's Environmental Hearing Board. Their website is for forms, case law, and more information. It is the appeal structure within the DEP that consists of appointed judges that decide whether to overturn DEP actions and issue injunctions. Since every aspect of drilling must be permitted by the DEP, every permit can be appealed and injunctions called "supersedeas" can be issued to stop drilling until a hearing takes place. It takes about 8 months to get an appeal hearing, which is a long wait for a $4 million investment like a gas well to be in jeopardy. Gas companies will have to readjust their production schedules, postpone promises to investors, and possibly, lose their permits to drill, dump, build waste pits, destroy habitat, and lay pipeline. 

The best way to approach this would be to contact the following free law clinics:

The Widener Environmental Help Line run by the Environmental Law Clinic provides advice and preparation for self-representation for Pennsylvania citizens confronting environmental problems. The Help Line allows Pennsylvania citizens to seek the Clinic’s help by contacting the Clinic in one of two ways:
             *          A Toll Free telephone line:  1-888-953-6853
             *          A Web-based Request for Help Form

The University of Pittsburgh Environmental Law Clinic  Potential clients may call 412-648-1300 to speak with a clinic representative, who will take down their information and relay it to the clinic’s supervising attorney.

The Drexel University Environmental Law Clinic is affiliated with The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Located at:
United Way Building
1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-627-7100 (tel)
215-627-3183 (fax)