The U.S. Chamber urged the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to hold that the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law (“CSL”) does not authorize the Department of Environmental Protection of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (the “Department”) to impose ongoing civil penalties after the problem that caused the original discharge has been fixed and no further leaks or spills are occurring. In this case, the Department claims that the CSL authorizes the Department to impose ongoing penalties indefinitely after a leak has stopped so long as some contaminant remands detectable—even if a remediation plan has been swiftly created and executed pursuant to the state's Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act (“LRERSA”). The Department has also suggested that it could impose limitless liability on new landowners for the discharges caused and contained by prior landowners.
The Chamber's amicus brief warned that such unpredictable, ongoing liability would vastly expand the potential liability for businesses and landowners across the Commonwealth, increase risks associated with real estate transactions, and impair real estate values for existing owners.
Robert C. Heim, Steven G. Bradbury, Jennings F. Durand, and Ellen L. Mossman of Dechert LLP served as co-counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center in this case.