In 1971, the citizens of Pennsylvania overwhelmingly approved a proposed amendment to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, now known as the “Environmental Rights Amendment” (ERA). The amendment provides:
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.
On June 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Governor Tom Wolf, held , in a 4 to 32 ruling, that two 2009 fiscal laws passed by the legislature were facially unconstitutional under the ERA because they did not provide that all funds generated by royalties from the leasing of state lands for the exploration and production of oil and gas were wholly directed to the protection and preservation of the Commonwealth’s public natural resources.