Oil and gas companies are trying to get Pennsylvania to approve fracking and other controversial technologies as part of a broader push to extract oil and gas from shale gas in the state.
But the oil and natural gas industry is fighting the efforts to regulate fracking as a hazardous waste.
That fight has spilled into courtrooms and into statehouses across the country.
The case, Oil Transfer and Pumping Co. v.
Harrisburg, is one of three lawsuits challenging Pennsylvania’s fracking law.
The other two cases, in Pennsylvania and Louisiana, are ongoing.
The state’s fracking ban is based on federal law that bans drilling in areas with “any measurable amount of natural gas.”
It was created by Congress in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The industry says that’s a false distinction because the oil in the Gulf of Mexico is from methane gas.
“If the oil transfer pipeline were a chemical reaction, then it would be a chemical product,” said Michael Littman, the attorney representing Oil Transfer Pipelines, which is based in Pennsylvania.
The company says its pipeline has never been used to extract natural gas.
Littman is also a director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
He says the state’s ban is a “clear and present danger to people who live near oil fields.”
The state is asking a federal judge to throw out the law and force the oil company to pay a fine of $15 million.
The federal judge said in a court filing last month that the oil pipeline is a highly regulated process and that Pennsylvania can’t enforce its ban because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not yet approved fracking.
The oil and oil gas industry counters that fracking is a necessary and safe technique that will improve the quality of the state oil and that the ban is arbitrary.
“The oil industry has made an effort to convince state officials that its drilling is harmless, and the courts have not agreed,” said Matt Dauber, an attorney for the Oil Transfer Pipeline.
Dauber also represents a group of oil industry workers in Pennsylvania who have sued the state for the right to organize.
The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association says that the industry has spent more than $5.7 million on lobbying and has spent about $2.5 million on TV ads since the fracking ban went into effect.