Court Tosses Pa. Ban on Zoning Limits To Shale Drilling

"HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania appellate court panel yesterday struck down provisions in a new law regulating the state's booming natural gas industry that opponents said would leave municipalities defenseless to protect homeowners, parks and schools from being surrounded by drilling sites or waste pits."

"The decision was a defeat for Gov. Tom Corbett and the natural gas industry, which had long sought the limitations, and the governor's office said an appeal to the State Supreme Court is likely.

The state Commonwealth Court ruled 4-3 in a decision released yesterday that the limitations in the so-called Act 13 violated the state constitution. The opinion's author, President Judge Dan Pellegrini, said the provisions upended the municipal zoning rules that had previously been followed by other property owners, unfairly exposing them to harm.

Seven municipalities had sued over the sweeping, 5-month-old law, saying it unconstitutionally takes away the power to control property from towns and landowners for the benefit of the oil and gas industry."

Marc Levy reports for the Associated Press July 26, 2012.


"Court Rejects a Ban on Local Fracking Limits" (Green/NYT)

Source: AP, 07/27/2012