This paper reviews the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's efforts to regulate oil and gas exploration, production and transmission upon Commonwealth-owned lands. Pennsylvania's lengthy history of oil, gas and mineral extraction and the state's scattershot acquisition of the former privately held lands that today constitute state-owned real estate combine to present an obstacle to a unified approach to regulation of oil and gas activities on Commonwealth-owned lands. Where the Commonwealth owns the surface and oil, gas and mineral estate, detailed leases, comprehensive oil and gas development plans, and a relatively strong regulatory regime provide the Commonwealth with power to control the intensity, location and in some cases the methods of drilling and exploration. Where, however, the oil and gas estate has been severed from the surface estate, courts have determined that the Commonwealth has minimal ability to control access to and use of the surface, leaving the Commonwealth to rely on indirect authorities exercised by its sister agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, or the voluntary efforts of owners of the oil, gas and mineral estate to manage its right to access the surface estate in a reasonable manner. ... 

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Environment and Natural Resources