Cole v. Pa. Dep’t Envtl. Prot.

Petitioners appealed the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) decision to approve a plan to construct a natural gas compressor station. The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing dismissed the appeal, concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Petitioners appealed that dismissal. The question before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court was whether Section 19(d)(1) of the federal Natural Gas Act divested the EHB of its subject matter jurisdiction to hear Petitioners’ appeal from DEP’s approval of the station. The Court reversed, holding that the term “civil actions” in the federal statute does not include state administrative agency reviews of state permitting decisions. Thus, such collateral administrative reviews remain available and are not preempted by the federal jurisdictional statute.

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