Demonstrating the importance of expert causation evidence, a Pennsylvania appellate court refused a landowner’s request to reopen a case alleging chemicals from a natural gas drilling operation contaminated the landowner’s well. See Kiskadden v. Penn. Dep’t of Envt’l Prot., No. 1167 (Commonwealth Court of Penn. Dec. 7, 2015). In June 2015, the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), which hears appeals from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection administrative proceedings, rejected Plaintiff landowner’s claim that nearby drilling operations contaminated his water supply.
On appeal to the Commonwealth Court, Plaintiff argued newly discovered evidence warranted remand to the EHB for further proceedings. The Court disagreed. The Court found Plaintiff did not show that consideration of the additional evidence—which included information related to the chemical composition of fluids used in Defendant’s drilling operations—would have affected the outcome of the case. The Court noted that the EHB rejected Plaintiff’s contamination claims because he failed to show a hydrogeologic connection between his well and Defendant’s drilling operations. Information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the drilling operations, without any further information connecting those operations to Plaintiff’s well, would have no bearing on the EHB’s ruling.