STANDING-LEGISLATORS-MUNICIPAL ENTITIES

September 26th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Yaw v. Del. River Basin Comm’n Del. Riverkeeper Network, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 25963 (3rd Cir. September 16, 2022) (Fuentes, C.J.)  In February 2021, the Delaware River Basin Commission banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) within the Delaware River Basin. The ban reflected the Commission’s determination that fracking “poses significant, immediate and long-term risks to the development, conservation, utilization, management, and preservation of the [Basin’s] water resources.” The ban also codified what had been a “de facto moratorium” on natural gas extraction in the Basin since 2010. Plaintiffs-Appellants—two Pennsylvania state senators, the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Caucus, and several Pennsylvania municipalities—filed this lawsuit challenging the ban. Among other things, they allege that, in enacting the ban, the Commission exceeded its authority under the Delaware River Basin Compact, violated the Takings Clause of the United States Constitution, illegally exercised the power of eminent domain, and violated the Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government. The District Court did not reach the merits of these claims because it found that Plaintiffs-Appellants lack standing to pursue them in federal court.  Although Plaintiffs-Appellants advance several arguments for why they have standing to challenge the ban, none of them have alleged the kinds of injuries that Article III demands. In our view, the state senators and the Senate Republican Caucus lack standing because the legislative injuries they allege affect the state legislature as a whole, and under well-established Supreme Court caselaw, “individual members lack standing to assert the institutional interests of a legislature.” The municipalities lack standing because the economic injuries they allege are “conjectural” and “hypothetical” rather than “actual and imminent.” And none of the Plaintiffs-Appellants have standing as trustees of Pennsylvania’s public natural resources under the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution because the Commission’s ban on fracking has not cognizably harmed the trust.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]