State officials have appealed a court decision that ended attempts to create statewide zoning rules for Marcellus Shale drilling.
The appeal came one day after a panel of Commonwealth Court judges ruled that Pennsylvania can’t require municipalities to allow drilling in areas where their local zoning rules would prohibit it.
“The provisions struck down by the Commonwealth Court are critically important for job creators who are employing more than 240,000 Pennsylvanians, for landowners seeking to exercise their property rights, and for local governments looking for guidance on how they may reasonably regulate oil and gas operations,” Gov. Tom Corbett said in a press release. “The provisions are also integral to the enhanced environmental standards and impact fee revenue portions of the Act. Indeed, there would be no Act without each of these crucial pieces.”
“It is important to note that the provisions casually set aside by the court were the result of months of compromise and negotiation, with significant input and support from Pennsylvania’s local government associations,” Corbett said. “Both the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, which represents 1,455 municipalities, urged passage of the law. This decision endangers the jobs of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians and deprives citizens of their property rights.
“It is the General Assembly and Governor’s prerogative to establish policy; it is the court’s job to pass judgment on the constitutionality of this policy, not its merits. Act 13 clearly meets the constitutionality test, and I am confident the Supreme Court will adhere to its responsibility in a prompt and timely manner.”
Act 13, which went into effect five months ago, created a per-well annual fee, altered regulations, and decided which parts of the drilling industry could be regulated by municipalities.
Attorneys representing Cecil, Peters, South Fayette, Mount Pleasant, and Robinson insisted that the law was unconstitutional and the zoning requirements would harm the ability to protect the health and safety of residents.