Seven municipalities came together to file a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania arguing that lawmakers unconstitutionally are taking away the landowner’s power to control their property and placing the power in the hands of the oil and gas industry.
The 117 page document was filed with the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg. The municipalities involved in the suit are all located in Pennsylvania and include: Robinson, Peters, Cecil, Mount Pleasant, South Fayetter, Nockamixon, and Yardley.
“By crafting a single set of statewide zoning rules applicable to oil and gas drilling throughout the commonwealth, the Pennsylvania General Assembly provided much sought-after predictability for the oil and gas development industry,” states the lawsuit.
Act 13, signed in February by Governor Tom Corbett, creates statewide standards for where wells can be located and related operating provisions.
Municipal officials will have 120 days from April 14 to create more strict provisions than the state standard, after which point drillers can file challenges with the Public Utilities Commission.
The citizens of Pennsylvania feel as if their concerns regarding property values were pushed aside to elevate the interests of oil and gas companies, and no concern was directed to the property owner. Several land-use lawyers have stated that the new law (Act 13) seemed unique in its detail to limiting what a municipality can require when it comes to exploration of Marcellus Shale.
The final law was negotiated in private by Corbett’s fellow Republicans who control the state Legislature. Only seven Democrats voted for it, while 13 Republicans voted against it.