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Pennsylvania Act 13

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed HB1950 by a narrow margin in early February 2012, and Act 13 was signed into law February 14, 2012 by Governor Tom Corbett. Did legislators really know what they were voting for as this legislation was rushed through?
 
The local zoning provisions take effect in mid-April and give municipalities 120 days to comply. Industry had argued they needed a standardized statewide township ordinance, while the resulting Act is considered onerous by many, since it essentially strips local municipalities of their zoning rights.
 
 

drilling and fracking close to home

A prime example is that Act 13 permits drilling and fracking in all zones, including close to homes in residential zones.

Another area of serious contention regards the restrictions placed on Pennsylvania health care professionals. It violates some of the basic tenets Pennsylvania doctors are sworn to uphold regarding public health. Pennsylvania doctors have been 'gagged' by the legislation when it comes to sharing critical information, as pointed out in this legal opinion: 

“Health professionals who are authorized to share Secret Information are likely to be responsible for ensuring that all persons receiving the information understand that it may not be communicated to anyone (except, perhaps, regulatory officials) not involved in the patient’s diagnosis and treatment. In a medical emergency, the health professional thus must ensure that a patient receiving life-saving Secret Information understands that the information may not be disclosed to others who may be at risk, including family members. If the Secret Information is released by persons who learned it from a health professional, and the health professional cannot prove that he or she exercised reasonable care to prevent those persons from divulging the information, the professional could be liable for damages resulting from the disclosure.”

Excerpt from May 2012 opinion by EarthJustice
Complete PDF document

In March 2012, a half dozen townships, mostly from western Pennsylvania, began finalizing plans for a legal challenge to Act 13 of 2012. This webpage shares news, information and links concerning the Pennsylvania legislation, as well as the efforts underway to overturn it.


UPDATE!
State supreme court rejects appeal of
ruling striking down parts of gas law

By Tom Fontaine   Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

February 21, 2014 - Pennsylvania's Supreme Court said on Friday that it won't reconsider a ruling that deems unconstitutional portions of a state law regulating natural gas drilling. The Supreme Court denied a request by Gov. Tom Corbett's administration to vacate its Dec. 19 decision, which said new industry-friendly rules violate the state Constitution, including a provision that takes drilling-related zoning decisions out of the hands of local government.

“This is certainly a victory for all local governments,” said Deron Gabriel, a commissioner in South Fayette, one of seven municipalities that challenged the state law known as Act 13. A lawyer for the governor said the administration is “disappointed.”

[J-127A-D-2012]

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MIDDLE DISTRICT

ORDER

PER CURIAM

AND NOW, this 21st day of February, 2014, the Application for Reargument or Reconsideration of the Opinions and Order entered by this Court on December 19, 2013, is DENIED.

Mr. Justice Saylor files a dissenting statement.

More: 
http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/J-127A-D-2012recon.pdf?cb=1

  

 

UPDATE!
Municipalities ask court to let drilling ruling stand

By Don Hopey   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

January 15, 2013 – South Fayette and six other Pennsylvania municipalities have asked the state Supreme Court to deny a Corbett administration request to reconsider its order declaring unconstitutional the "drill anywhere" provision of the state's oil and gas law. The municipalities say in a 15-page response filed Wednesday that the court's Dec. 19 decision was based on a purely legal determination that the law's provisions overriding local zoning were unconstitutional. They further say there is no need to review additional factual evidence and findings that the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Public Utility Commission now want to introduce on appeal. "This wasn't a factual case with evidence," said John Smith, co-counsel for the municipalities. "It was a pure matter of law and they even argued that, to the Commonwealth Court, that the factual record was of no relevance."

In an appeal filed Jan. 2, those state entities and the governor's Office of General Counsel asked the Supreme Court for an opportunity to re-argue the case and introduce new evidence. In filing for the appeal, the Public Utility Commission and DEP asked that the case be returned to Commonwealth Court for development of the evidentiary record. "They've lost on the law question, so now they want to re-argue on the facts," Mr. Smith said. The municipalities also quote the Supreme Court opinion that states Act 13 did not pass constitutional muster because "constitutional commands regarding municipalities' obligations and duties to their citizens cannot be abrogated by statute."

Full story

 
UPDATE!
PA SUPREME COURT RULING
December 19, 2013  (162-page PDF)
 

The core of the court's Opinion centered on this 1971 amendment to the Pennsylvania state constitution:

Natural Resources and the Public Estate
Section 27.

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

 
Former state senator Franklin Kury (D) of Northumberland County in east-central Pennsylvania crafted the amendment to the state constitution in 1970. The amendment was was ratified by voters by a 4-1 margin in 1971.
 

Pennsylvania Act 13 of 2012
HB 1950 / Act 13
(Full Text - PDF 453KB)

 

Act 13 News

 
STEVENS ELEVATION SPURS NEW ACT 13 DISPUTE

August 23, 2013 - HARRISBURG - Correale Stevens' recent elevation to Pennsylvania's highest court spurred new rounds of legal sparring over how to proceed with a challenge to the state drilling impact fee law. The question of whether having a second round of arguments on the case before the state Supreme Court with Justice Stevens in attendance would be politically improper is debated in new court filings by both sides in the case.

The state Public Utility Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection appealed a lower court ruling against a provision in the impact fee law limiting the ability of local governments to control the location of gas drilling activity. A coalition of several townships and Maya Van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, argue that the law's effort to limit local zoning powers is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court heard arguments on the appeal last fall when it was tied 3-3 between judges of Republican and Democratic affiliation and has yet to issue an opinion.

thetimes-tribune.com

 
PA. LEGAL BILLS EXCEED $550,000 IN DISPUTE OVER SHALE DRILLING LAW

Feb 11, 2013 -- HARRISBURG -- With a state Supreme Court ruling still pending regarding the legality of the Marcellus Shale gas drilling law passed last year, billing documents show that the case already has cost the commonwealth more than $550,000. Those costs stem from hiring an outside legal firm, Philadelphia-based Conrad O'Brien, to represent the state DEP and the PUC in the lawsuit brought by a group of mostly Western Pennsylvania towns.

The state's costs dwarf those reported by the municipalities involved, which have not been charged by the attorneys representing them in the appellate courtrooms. Local officials from seven municipalities, along with a Monroeville doctor and members of the Delaware Riverkeepers Network, sued the state in March over the shale drilling law, which they argued hinders their abilities to protect residents through the law's restrictions on how they craft local zoning rules.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
CANADIAN STUDY BLASTS ACT 13 REPORTING

December 2012 Excerpt - Using publicly available data, we find that the DEP likely omitted between 15,300 and 25,100 unconventional gas wells from its Act 13 report. Left uncorrected, we estimate that Pennsylvania’s state, county, and municipal governments could forfeit fees of $205–$303 million in 2012 and up to $0.75–$1.85 billion cumulatively over the expected life of these wells. Rather than an isolated incident, evidence suggests that information management is a systemic and recurring problem within the DEP and its predecessor agencies. We propose the implementation of a relational database and geographic information system as a way for the DEP to fulfill its Act 13 obligations.

An Analysis of Unconventional Gas Well Reporting under Pennsylvania’s Act 13 (PDF - 528KB)

 
SHELL'S ETHANE CRACKER COULD HINGE ON ACT 13 DECISION

December 17, 2012 - Back in March, 2012 Shell Oil Co. announced that it was interested in building an ethane cracker at a site near Monaca, Beaver County. The processing plant would break up oil and natural gas into smaller molecules to create ethylene, which is a compound used to manufacture plastics. Pennsylvania competed against Ohio and West Virginia to lure Shell by offering what amounts to a $1.65 billion dollar tax credit over the next 25 years —the largest in state history.

But despite the incentives, the ethane cracker isn’t a sure thing yet. As a year-end deadline draws near, Shell’s final decision may hinge on how the state Supreme Court rules on whether Act 13 can restrict local governments from zoning drilling operations. It’s unclear when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will issue a ruling on Act 13. Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Court ruled that the portions of the law that restricted local governments’ abilities to zone drilling operations violated the state constitution. The Corbett Administration appealed the decision.

State Impact - Pennsylvania

 
RULING ON ACT 13 WON'T END FRAY

December 10, 2012 - No matter how the state Supreme Court rules in its review of Pennsylvania‘s oil and gas laws, lawyers and municipal governments likely will be busy. Experts predict months more legal maneuvering and maybe more drilling industry pressure on lawmakers after the court rules on Act 13, a decision that could occur any day. Legal fights could result, experts say, whether or not the court rules for the municipalities fighting the state, including five Pittsburgh suburbs.

In the spring, South Fayette, Cecil, Peters and Mt. Pleasant and Robinson in Washington County led a group that sued to strike down parts of the law the Legislature passed in February. The case focused on strict limits placed on municipal governments‘ role in managing where and when drilling can happen. Commonwealth Court agreed with their arguments in July, ruling 4-3 that Act 13 unconstitutionally forced industrial land-use standards on residential areas. Four of the six remaining Supreme Court justices would have to side with the state to overturn that decision and reinstate the law.

TribLive

 
REVISED LIST OF
PENNSYLVANIA PUC IMPACT FEES

November 2, 2012 Revised List of Pennsylvania Impact Fees (223KB PDF)

 
PENNSYLVANIA MISCALCULATED SHALE GAS
IMPACT MONEY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

October 26, 2012 - The state PUC said Friday it miscalculated by up to $1 million how much drilling impact fee money it will dole out to municipalities across the state. About 60 percent of the money is going to more than 1,500 municipal and county governments.

PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said the miscalculation resulted from a data-entry error. Kocher could not say how many of the impact fee payments will change. Municipalities and counties should get their payments by the state-mandated deadline of Dec. 1.

TRIBLive

 
PUC ORDERED TO DESIST
ON ACT 13 REVIEWS

October 26, 2012 - A Pa. Commonwealth Court judge has enjoined the Pa. PUC from acting upon requests to review municipal ordinances relating to Act 13. Senior Judge Keith B. Quigley has ordered the PUC to "cease and desist" on requests related to the act, nothing that the court's July 26 order permanently enjoined the Commonwealth from enforcing portions of the bill that had to do with provisions related to zoning. Attorney John Smith, who represents local townships in their fight with the Act 13 provisions said the PUC should now release the impact fees to Robinson, Cecil and South Fayette townships.

"The municipalities we represent correctly interpreted the law as to the PUC's role in ordinance reviews and despite the clear statutory provisions, the PUC sought to go forward anyway to deny close to $1 million of impact monies to these select ACT 13 plaintiffs. As the Commonwealth Court agreed completely with our position, we fully expect and demand that the PUC immediately release the impact fees to these four communities." A PUC spokeswoman said the fees will still be distributed by Dec. 1.

Observer-Reporter

 
CECIL TOWNSHIP LETTER TO RANGE RESOURCES

October 22, 2012 letter excerpt - "The Board of Supervisors makes its decisions based on the best interests of the health, safety and welfare of its residents. Not only does a majority of the Board believe the PUC lawsuit to be meritless, it also plans to fully comply with Act 13 and State Law as it relates to any oil and gas activity in the Township. The suggestion that the Board could or should accede to the leverage of litigation to alter its position on a private meeting would be inconsistent with its obligations to its residents.

To date, Range has taken no issue with Cecil Township regarding its oil and gas ordinance and there has been no suggestion by you or Range that any part of our ordinance is inhibiting Range from conducting operations in our Township. Range’s overtures to restart its relationship with Cecil Township and to get off on a new foot seems inconsistent with the reference to litigation as a means to influence the actions of the Board of Supervisors and seems more reminiscent of the past than some new attempt to work together."

Complete Scribd document

 
LARGE, LIVELY CROWD TURNS OUT FOR SUPREME COURT ARGUMENTS ON GAS DRILLING LAWS

October 18, 2012 – A standing-room-only crowd of cheering activists inspired a raucous atmosphere Wednesday at a crucial Pennsylvania Supreme Court legal argument on the state’s new oil and gas laws. In July the state Commonwealth Court ruled 4-3 that the zoning aspects of Act 13 violated the state constitution, and the Corbett administration appealed. South Fayette, and Cecil, Peters, Mt. Pleasant and Robinson in Washington County are leading a group trying to strike down portions of Act 13. Commonwealth Court ruled 4-3 in July that the state overstepped its authority by allowing drilling in all land-use zones, even residential neighborhoods.

As Philadelphia attorney Matthew Haverstick tried to defend the state’s rule, Justice Max Baer of Mt. Lebanon told him his argument was “scary” to laymen, families and homeowners. Justice Seamus P. McCaffery of Philadelphia asked the attorney about “a private citizen’s right to have a quiet residential community.” The Supreme Court has only six active justices — three Democrats and three Republicans — which means a case could end in a 3-3 tie. That means the Commonwealth Court ruling would stand.

TribLive

 
WITHHOLDING OF IMPACT FEE:
IMMORAL BY RANGE RESOURCES AND ILLEGAL BY THE CORBETT ADMINISTRATION

October 17, 2012 - Are any of the executives down in Fort Worth paying attention to how poorly this is being handled? Some fresh faces in the public relations department would be the single best move Range Resources could make right now, because the current crew is doing much more harm than good. I watched the news conference in shock as both Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Tim Solobay stood in support of the PUC’s action to withhold the impact fee money from these communities. I was shocked because the PUC’s actions are not only immoral, but are also clearly illegal.

Section 3308 of Act 13 clearly states impact fee money can only be withheld AFTER it has been established that an ordinance does not comply with Act 13; such a determination requires an order from the PUC or the courts. In the instance of these four municipalities, no determination has been made as to whether the ordinance complies or not, so under the law the impact fee money cannot be withheld.

Canon-McMillan Patch

 
DRILLING IMPACT PAYMENTS TINY FOR
SOME PENNSYLVANIA COMMUNITIES

October 17, 2012 – When the state sends out drilling impact fee money in the coming weeks, it will include checks worth $5.19 to a Lawrence County municipality called S.N.P.J. and $9.44 to Centralia in Columbia County. Derry is receiving the most money of any Westmoreland County community, nearly $452,000. Its annual budget is $2.5 million, according to the state Public Utility Commission, which put out numbers on the impact fee this week as it gets ready to pay out the money.

The checks are part of the state’s effort to get money back to municipal governments. Nearly $29 million — part of $204 million collected from gas drillers — will go to every community near drilling or in the same county as a deep shale gas well, based on population and road miles. About 200 municipalities statewide will get checks for less than $100, the smallest being $2.99 to Haysville.

TribLive

 
IMPACT FEE WITHHELD FROM TOWNSHIPS APPEALING ACT 13

October 16, 2012 – Although $204 million in natural gas drilling impact fees is being released to municipalities across Pennsylvania in the next 10 days, payments are on hold for three townships in Washington County and one in Allegheny. Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and South Fayette townships, which filed an appeal to Act 13, the law governing gas drilling in the state, have been left out of the impact fee disbursement loop for now. “It’s the mother of divide and conquer moves,” said state Rep. Jesse White, whose own municipality – Cecil Township – was to receive $246,098.

Attorney John Smith, the solicitor for Cecil and Robinson townships, immediately contacted the state Public Utilities Commission and advised the agency that it is violating the Act 13 law by withholding the fees. Under the statute, the PUC or an appellate court must first issue an order that the municipality’s local ordinance is in violation of the law before payments can be withheld. “Nowhere in Act 13 is the PUC given the authority to deem a township ineligible for impact fees merely because a request for review is currently pending,” he wrote.

 
PA SUPREME COURT WON'T HEAR
FROM GAS INDUSTRY IN ACT 13 APPEAL

September 26, 2012 - Drilling industry officials will not be allowed to argue in front of the Supreme Court when it hears arguments in a case contesting the state’s new oil and gas laws, according to an order the court issued this week.

The Court also rejected a petition to intervene from Republican General Assembly leaders Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati and House Speaker Sam Smith, according to the same order issued Monday.

TribLive

 
TINICUM SHOWS SUPPORT FOR
NOCKAMIXON'S ACT 13 CHALLENGE

September 21, 2012 - Tinicum Township partnered with several municipalities, environmental groups and community planning organizations in support of Nockamixon Township’s challenge of Act 13.

This week, the groups filed Amicus Briefs, or "Friends of the Court" briefs, in Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court illustrating their opposition to the state’s latest oil and natural gas drilling law. They argue that communities should maintain the right to making zoning decisions regarding drilling within their borders.

PhillyBurbs

 
WHITE JOINS OTHER LAWMAKERS
IN ACT 13 APPEAL

September 20, 2012 - State Rep. Jesse White has joined 43 other House Democrats in filing a legal brief before the state Supreme Court supporting those who believe state Act 13 is unconstitutional by eliminating local zoning ordinances regulating the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.

The brief known as an amicus curiae supports a Commonwealth Court ruling that sided in favor of seven municipalities, including four in Washington County, that sued to overturn the law’s exclusion of local ordinances setting conditions on the industry and is on appeal to the higher court, White announced today.

 
GROUPS SHOW SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITIES CHALLENGING STATE'S MARCELLUS SHALE LAW

September 18, 2012 - A group of environmental and community planning organizations, as well as government entities, filed a series of Amicus Briefs with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today in support of communities’ rights to making zoning decisions about Marcellus Shale play within their borders.

The groups—including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, the Pittsburgh City Council, Mountain Watershed Association, and Earthjustice—filed in support of a Commonwealthe Court decision that found portions of Act 13 unconstitutional.

Cranberry Patch

 
P.U.C. ADVISES ON N.E.PA. DRILLING ORDINANCES

September 13, 2012 - HARRISBURG - State utility regulators are advising municipalities in Northeast Pennsylvania about the validity of their gas drilling zoning ordinances even as a major provision of the new state impact fee law undergoes a court test.

The Public Utility Commission has issued advisory opinions in recent days that the proposed drilling ordinance in Athens Twp., Bradford County, complies with the impact fee law while a proposed ordinance in North Towanda Twp., Bradford County, needs changes to its well setback and floodplain language to be in compliance.

Times-Tribune

 
 

PUC impact fee
PUC impact fees


 

Act 13 of 2012 Impact Fee Schedule


 
 
PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION REJECTS PITTSBURGH'S DRILLING BAN

September 12, 2012 - Pittsburgh City Council overstepped its authority in 2010 when it banned Marcellus shale drilling in the city, according to an opinion issued this week by the Public Utility Commission. The commission reviewed Pittsburgh’s ordinance at the request of city Solicitor Daniel Regan and found that sections containing environmental and oil and gas regulations were pre-empted by state and federal law.

The opinion carries no legal authority, said commission spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher. She said council can use it as a guide to amend the ordinance if it chooses. But that’s not likely, according to council President Darlene Harris. Former Councilman Doug Shields, who co-sponsored the ban, said the PUC should stand aside and allow courts to decide the issue.

TribLive

 
MURRYSVILLE MAY CONSIDER
JUMPING INTO GAS DRILLING SUIT

September 7, 2012 - Murrysville may join a “friend of the court” brief in support of several Western Pennsylvania communities that are appealing state regulations on oil and gas drilling. Councilman David Perry said during Wednesday’s meeting that council may schedule an emergency meeting on the matter. “We have the ability to be able to review a final draft” before deciding whether to join the brief, Perry said.

Council in May unanimously approved a resolution supporting the lawsuit filed against the state in response to the law, known as Act 13. A resolution passed Wednesday supported a July Commonwealth Court decision that struck down parts of the law meant to limit municipalities’ zoning and land-use powers. “I don’t think there’s any question in the municipality’s support for the appeal,” said Chief Administrator Jim Morrison.

TribLive

 
PA CHAMBER, BUSINESS GROUPS URGE COURT TO UPHOLD STATEWIDE MARCELLUS SHALE REGULATIONS

September 5, 2012 - In an amicus brief filed Tuesday, Sept. 4 in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the PA Chamber, along with the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association; National Federal of Independent Business; Pennsylvania Business Council and the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, argued that Commonwealth Court’s decision erroneously empowers municipalities to sue on behalf of select groups of residents and in sense has created a form of associational, not representational, standing for municipalities not previously recognized by the courts whereby municipalities can advance constitutional claims on behalf of property owners.

The brief asks the Supreme Court to reaffirm that municipalities cannot assert the personal rights of select residents against the Commonwealth. The brief also argues that Commonwealth Court’s decision unnecessarily and improperly creates new constitutionally protected rights.

 
PENNSYLVANIA SUBMITS ITS ARGUMENTS
IN SHALE DRILLING LAW APPEAL

September 5, 2012 - Lawyers representing several state agencies argue in a brief filed Tuesday that appellate judges erred in deciding to overturn a portion of the state's new Marcellus Shale drilling law. The July decision by a Commonwealth Court panel "failed to acknowledge and uphold the supreme authority of the Legislature" and applied an improper legal standard, according to attorneys for the state Department of Environmental Protection and Public Utility Commission.

Their argument came in a 45-page brief filed with the state Supreme Court, where state officials are contesting the lower court's decision that halted limitations on how local governments can set up zoning rules for gas drilling. The new law, known as Act 13, went into effect in April. It created a per-well annual fee, revamped environmental regulations and outlined which parts of the drilling industry can and cannot be regulated by municipalities.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 


Fresh water to Frack water...
behind your house and above your water well?

 
FAYETTE COUNTY SEEKS INPUT
ON USES FOR IMPACT FEE REVENUE

September 4, 2012 - Fayette County’s Office of Planning, Zoning and Community Development will hold six public meetings throughout the county, seeking public input on the best use of funding expected to be generated through Act 13 natural gas impact fees. The board of county commissioners in April agreed to impose impact fees on Marcellus shale natural gas wells.

Act 13 creates a drilling impact fee that specifies how revenue from those fees is to be distributed. A significant portion of the revenue generated will be used to cover the local impacts of drilling, while several state agencies are to receive funding for a variety of purposes.

TribLive

 
PA. DEP DRAFT OF PROPOSED CHANGES TO ACT 13

PDF (302KB)

 
LOCAL GROUP CHALLENGES NEW RULES
FOR SHALE INDUSTRY

August 30, 2012 - The leader of the organization representing 1,455 municipalities -- 44 percent of the state's population -- said his group is openly supporting a contingent of local officials and individuals who are challenging state lawmakers and officials, including the governor, over zoning provisions in the state's Act 13, the new law that brought sweeping changes to the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry.

Though PSATS initially supported the passage of Act 13 as "the best deal" they thought they could get from state lawmakers, the group has always opposed any infringement on local land-use decisions, Mr. Sanko said. "[Act 13] was a compromise for everybody," he said. "There was something ugly in that bill for everyone."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
UPDATE OF PENNSYLVANIA'S GAS, OIL
REGULATIONS MOSTLY SUPPORTED

August 29, 2012 - The state is planning a wide-ranging update to rules governing well permits, water withdrawals and storage, emergency spill containment and more, said Scott Perry, deputy secretary of the DEP. The state plans to switch to electronic permit applications from mailed paper ones, ban some open wastewater pits and require tanks or vacuum trucks on site for quick emergency containment, Perry said.

The updates mostly involve many new notification requirements and plan approvals the industry must submit to, he said. One effort that could bring the biggest challenge is a change to open-air centralized water impoundments, Slagel added. They hold millions of gallons of water that drillers mix to recycle for use at several wells. Perry downplayed potential conflict. Drillers want to ensure the temporary pits aren’t regulated in the same way as permanent dumps, Slagel said. But changes will likely be “small” and “esoteric,” an attempt by the state to make consistent regulations for all waste sites, Perry said.

TribLive

 
MUNICIPALITIES RETAIN RIGHT TO RESTRICT OIL & GAS WELL DRILLING, COMMONWEALTH COURT RULES

August 15, 2012 - Municipalities don’t have to draft new land-use rules to comply with a controversial new law governing gas drilling unless the state Supreme Court decides they must, according to a Commonwealth Court bench ruling on Wednesday. The Commonwealth Court in July struck down parts of the law that were meant to limit municipalities’ zoning and land-use powers, and President Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled Wednesday that those portions of the law will stay inactive pending the state’s appeal, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Most rulings are stayed during an appeal, but the plaintiffs, including several Pittsburgh suburbs, asked the court to leave its ruling in force. That’s so they don’t have to comply with the new rules only to change back if they lose on appeal, said John M. Smith, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney and solicitor for Cecil and Robinson in Washington County. A spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office, which is leading the case for the state and several of its departments, said he was not immediately aware of the decision Wednesday afternoon and would not comment.

TribLive

 
COURT PLACES STAY ON MARKWEST- CECIL TOWNSHIP, PA. LAWSUIT

August 9, 2012 - On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court agreed to place a stay on a lawsuit MarkWest filed against the township until the state’s Supreme Court renders a decision on the zoning provisions of Act 13. MarkWest asked for the stay and the township signed off on it.

The dispute dates to March 2011, when Cecil’s zoning hearing board turned down a request by MarkWest to build a natural-gas compressor station on Route 980 near Coleman Road. The board said it was not appropriate for an area zoned for light industrial use and was not an essential service. MarkWest countered by filing suit in Washington County Court and, in June, asked Commonwealth Court to let it build the compressor station at that site, saying it would be allowed under Act 13, which became law in February and created statewide oil and gas-drilling regulations.

 
CARROLL TWP. PA. DELAYS SHALE ORDINANCE

August 8, 2012 - Carroll Township’s plans to regulate gas and oil drilling are on hold pending a state court test of the new law that takes control out of the hands of municipalities, Solicitor Herman Bigi said. But that law might be overturned because of a split in the Supreme Court as one justice awaits trial.

Speaking at the supervisors’ meeting Tuesday, Bigi said the township had prepared an ordinance governing drilling in light of the Marcellus shale industry boom. Bigi said Act 13, enacted by the Corbett administration, “takes away the power of local municipalities to regulate gas wells. “We did not enact our ordinance. The state came in and completely usurped our powers,” Bigi said.

TribLive

 
FRACKING, LEGISLATION AND THE COURT

August 6, 2012 - the Pennsylvania legislature and Governor Tom Corbett went off the deep end earlier this year by enacting Act 13, a sweeping statute covering many aspects of fracking governance. Among the most significant provisions was a remarkably detailed and complex set of measures designed to strip local governments of basic land-use controls long protected under Pennsylvania’s planning code that emphasizes local authority. The passage of Act 13 in March led to a near-immediate turn to the courts by local governments.

These new provisions include tight constraints on how localities may address such issues as restricting vehicle access routes, well site operation hours, conditions for site screening and fencing, or limiting structural height or noise from facility operations. Every aspect of this legislation was designed to establish uniform land-use approaches to fracking operations, even in densely-populated areas. The state went even further by blocking local authority to challenge any state regulatory decisions related to shale gas permits and threatening localities with immediate loss of their share of “local impact fee” revenues in the event of any local encroachment on state authority.

Story

 
IRRATIONAL GAS POLICY: ACT 13 LOCAL ZONING PRE-EMPTION IS A MISTAKE

August 2, 2012 - Sometimes, even in politics, you have to admit you’re wrong.  Gov. Tom Corbett and members of the Legislature were wrong to strip local municipalities of their zoning rights in Act 13, the Marcellus Shale law.  Even zoning land “residential” would not make any difference if drillers want access to the land.

That part of the Marcellus Shale bill has become so unpopular that it is being challenged in court, and the “little guys” are winning. Commonwealth Court struck down that part of the law last week, going so far as to call it “irrational.” The court agreed that local governments have the right to protect the health and safety of their residents. “[It’s] irrational because it requires municipalities to allow all zones, drilling operations and impoundments, gas compressor stations, storage and use of explosives in all zoning districts, and applies industrial criteria to restrictions on height of structures, screening and fencing, lighting and noise,” the court wrote.

Story

 
CECIL TOWNSHIP, PA. ASKS FOR DISMISSAL
OF COMPRESSOR STATION LAWSUIT

August 1, 2012 - Following the ruling last week by Commonwealth Court that the zoning portions of the state’s oil and gas drilling law were unconstitutional, Cecil Township is asking the court to dismiss a suit filed by MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources to build a compressor station on Route 980 near Coleman Road.

In preliminary objections filed Monday, the township argues that the decision on the zoning portions of Act 13 announced Thursday removes the foundation of MarkWest’s claim, which is that it would be allowed to build the compressor station under the law. Because the zoning provisions of the law were stricken, oil and gas drilling ordinances crafted by individual municipalities “remain in place and MarkWest has no basis to seek a direct appeal to the Commonwealth Court.”

 
PENNSYLVANIA'S 'MEDICAL GAG RULE' CALLED AN ILLEGAL GIFT TO GAS DRILLERS

July 31, 2012 – Kowtowing to natural gas-drilling companies, Pennsylvania enacted an unconstitutional "Medical Gag Rule" that prevents doctors from speaking to patients or the public about the health dangers of fracking, under the guise that such speech would violate "trade secrets," a doctor claims in Federal Court. Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez sued the Pennsylvania attorney general, its secretary of environmental protection and the chairman of its Public Utility Commission. Rodriguez claims Act 13 of 2012, signed into law on Feb. 14, forces medical professionals into "a vague confidentiality agreement," and that obeying the law would force him "to violate ethical rules imposed upon him by the medical profession that could cost (him) his license to practice medicine within the Commonwealth."

Rodriguez says: "The Medical Gag Rule imposes a content-based restriction on the speech of health care practitioners receiving information from gas drilling companies on chemicals that a patient may have been exposed by requiring the health care practitioner to enter into, upon request by gas drilling company or vendor, a vague confidentiality agreement to maintain the specific identity and amount of any chemicals claimed to be a trade secret by a gas drilling company and/or its vendor as a condition precedent to receiving such information deemed necessary to provide competent medical treatment to plaintiff's patient. The First Amendment does not permit such gross and content-based intrusion on speech and, accordingly, the court should declare the Medical Gag Rule unconstitutional and enjoin enforcement of the requirement that health care practitioners enter into confidentiality agreements as a condition precedent to receiving information needed to treat patients in emergency situations."

Story

 

STATE LEADERS WANT QUICK
COURT REVIEW OF ACT 13

July 31, 2012 – State leaders are asking the state Supreme Court to move quickly to review a ruling that struck down key portions of Pennsylvania’s new oil and gas drilling law, perhaps as soon as the court’s October session in Pittsburgh.

The state is at a critical period of Marcellus shale gas development and several time-sensitive projects statewide depend on a quick judgment, attorneys for the leaders of the Public Utility Commission and Department of Environmental Protection wrote in a request they filed Monday. Commonwealth Court’s 4-3 ruling said the state’s gas law violated municipal rights by mandating that industrial sites be allowed to work under industrial standards in residential areas.

TribLive

 

STATE ASKS FOR EXPEDITED HEARING IN ACT 13 APPEAL

July 30, 2012 - The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is asking the state’s Supreme Court for an expedited hearing of its appeal of a lower-court decision that found the zoning provisions of the oil and gas drilling law Act 13 were unconstitutional.

An application filed Monday said the Supreme Court should consider the case quickly because the decision last Thursday by Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court’s created uncertainty for the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry and "the Commonwealth risks losing the chance to promote and grow a key economic driver to its full potential, perhaps irreparably so."

 

PA. DOCTOR CHALLENGES GAS LAW'S "MEDICAL GAG RULE" IN FEDERAL COURT

July 27, 2012 - A Luzerne County doctor has challenged Pennsylvania's recently-passed natural gas law in federal court, claiming its "gag rule" for doctors treating patients affected by fracking fluid violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez is a practicing medical doctor in Dallas, Pa. He is also president of the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition.

His lawsuit against Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, Public Utility Commission chairman Robert Powelson and Attorney General Linda Kelley claims that Act 13 of 2012 imposes an unconsititutional "medial gag rule" on him and other doctors who - when treating patients exposed to fracking fluids - would be required to sign confidentiality agreements with gas companies before being able to know the specific chemical components the patients have been exposed to. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he said, "has no legitimate or compelling interest in keeping information on risks to public health and safety confidential."

Story

 

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE APPEALS
RULING ON SHALE DRILLING

July 27, 2012 - Gov. Tom Corbett's office announced today that he has appealed Thursday's Commonwealth Court decision that overturned new rules aimed at creating statewide zoning for Marcellus Shale drilling. The case now heads to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

It is difficult to predict how the Supreme Court will rule on the appeal. Because Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin currently faces legal charges, the court is divided between three Republicans and three Democrats.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

PUC, DEP APPEAL ACT 13 RULING

July 27, 2012 - The Pennsylvania Utility Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection today appealed the Commonwealth Courts decision on Thursday that overturned portions of zoning regulations that created statewide zoning standards for Marcellus Shale Drilling. The case will head to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

On Thursday, judges on the Commonwealth Court ruled that the zoning regulations set forth in Act 13 violate the municipalities' rights to establish zoning and land-use rules.

 

ZONING LIMITS IN PA. GAS
DRILLING LAW STRUCK DOWN

July 26, 2012 - HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania appellate court panel on Thursday 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. The state Commonwealth Court ruled 4-3 in a decision that the limitations in the so-called Act 13 violated the state constitution.

"If the commonwealth-proffered reasons are sufficient, then the Legislature could make similar findings requiring coal portals, tipples, washing plants, limestone and coal strip mines, steel mills, industrial chicken farms, rendering plants and fireworks plants in residential zones for a variety of police powers advancing those interests in their development," Pellegrini wrote. "It would allow the proverbial 'pig in the parlor instead of the barnyard.' " Pellegrini, a Democrat, was joined by the other Democrat on the panel, Bernard McGinley, and two Republicans, Patricia McCullough and Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter. Three Republican judges dissented.

(Newspaper story link was removed)

PDF of Ruling (618KB)

 

STATE COURT TOSSES ZONING
LIMITS IN GAS LAW

July 27, 2012 - Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court has thrown out the sections of a new gas drilling law that sharply limited local zoning of Marcellus Shale operations. The decision issued Thursday morning by the seven-judge panel found that a portion of the sweeping revisions of the state's gas law, known as Act 13, infringed on municipalities' due process rights by requiring them to violate their comprehensive plans for growth and development.

The law would have required municipalities to allow all oil and gas operations in all zoning districts, including residential ones, the court wrote in a majority opinion. In doing so, the law "does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications - irrational because it requires municipalities to allow all zones, drilling operations and impoundments, gas compressor stations, storage and use of explosives in all zoning districts, and applies industrial criteria to restrictions on height of structures, screening and fencing, lighting and noise."

Times-Tribune

 

OFFICIALS THRILLED BY
ACT 13 RULING

July 27, 2012 - “None of us here wanted to lose our zoning,” Township Supervisor Liz Martin said. “We had just spent a whopping lot of money on new zoning regulations specifically set forth because of the natural gas industry… and we didn’t want to see all of that money go to waste.” Black Creek Township and Sugarloaf Township also sent letters opposing Act 13. Supervisors from those townships could not be reached Thursday.

Local environmental advocacy group the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition expressed its support of the decision. “The rights of individual communities to make their own decisions for future growth, while protecting their citizens, has been upheld,” group President Alfonso Rodriguez said in a statement. “We applaud the Commonwealth Court’s decision to respect the people of Pennsylvania by upholding the Constitution.” The gas industry, through its advocacy group Marcellus Shale Coalition, by contrast, criticized the court’s decision.

Times Leader

 

PA. STATE COURT TOSSES ZONING
LIMITS IN GAS LAW

July 26, 2012 - Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court has thrown out the sections of a new gas drilling law that sharply limited local zoning of Marcellus Shale operations. The decision issued Thursday morning by the seven-judge panel found that a portion of the sweeping revisions of the state's gas law, known as Act 13, infringed on municipalities' due process rights by requiring them to violate their comprehensive plans for growth and development.

The law would have required municipalities to allow all oil and gas operations in all zoning districts, including residential ones, the court wrote in a majority opinion. In doing so, the law "does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications - irrational because it requires municipalities to allow all zones, drilling operations and impoundments, gas compressor stations, storage and use of explosives in all zoning districts, and applies industrial criteria to restrictions on height of structures, screening and fencing, lighting and noise."

TheTimes-Tribune

 

WASHINGTON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CHIEF'S REMARKS OFF BASE

July 24, 2012 – Jeff Kotula makes several statements in his recent piece in The Energy Report, “Impact fee can make substantial economic impact here,” that entirely miss the reality of the situation. First, he misses the point of the lawsuit against Act 13. The suit does not contend that the state does not have the power to preempt local ordinances. The suit contends that 12 provisions of the act are unconstitutional. The state can preempt but it must do so in a constitutional manner. Local officials wish to maintain control of local zoning and development because they are constitutionally mandated to provide for the health, safety and welfare of their citizens.

Secondly, Kotula states that statewide regulation is a “more holistic approach” to resource development. It is anything but that. A one-size-fits-all mandate that allows drilling in all zoning districts is ultimately destructive to the economies of municipalities and egregiously violates the rights of residents. The few “improvements” that Kotula cites are of no value when entire residential areas are destroyed by drilling, compressor stations and gas pipe lines. Thirdly, Kotula appears to be clueless about the real impact of uncontrolled industrial activity in this state’s municipalities. He does not mention the implied right to unfettered surface access for drilling.

 

PA. MUNICIPALITIES VOICE SUPPORT
FOR ACT 13 SUIT

July 24, 2012 - According to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a suburban Philadelphia environmental group that is also a plaintiff in the suit, 67 municipalities across Pennsylvania have either adopted resolutions or sent letters supporting the suit. At the root of their concerns is the belief that Act 13, the state’s newly adopted oil and gas drilling law, violates the state’s constitution by taking away their zoning and land-use planning rights.

Aside from the four Washington County townships and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, other plaintiffs in the suit include the borough of Yardley and Nockamixon Township in Bucks County; South Fayette Township in Allegheny County; and Mehernosh Khan, a Monroeville doctor. The case was argued before Commonwealth Court in June. No decision has been announced. Because of the suit, the court placed a 120-day hold on the zoning provisions of Act 13 from going into effect. The stay is due to expire Aug. 14.

 

FRACKING REGULATIONS, A LEGAL BATTLE
IN PENNSYLVANIA

July 20, 2012 - One year after Governor Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission published its 136 page Final Report—July 22, 2011—with 96 recommendations to “develop a comprehensive, strategic proposal for the responsible and environmentally sound development of Marcellus Shale,” the state of Pennsylvania has become a legal battleground between local municipalities and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), the Public Utility Commission, and the state Attorney General’s office.

The reason for such disarray is the new Act 13, originally introduced as HB 1950/SB 1100, also known as “The New Impact Fee Law,” which overhauled the state’s existing natural gas drilling laws in February of this year.

Story

 

HEMPFIELD UNLIKELY TO TAKE A SIDE
ON ACT 13'S SHALE WELL FEES

July 20, 2012 - The Hempfield Township, Pa. supervisors likely will not take a position on controversial Act 13, which imposes impact fees on Marcellus shale drillers, at least until the Commonwealth Court rules on the law’s constitutionality. Attorney Les Mlakar advised the supervisors during a meeting on Wednesday that it would be “fruitless” for the township to adopt a resolution on the issue until the appeals court rules.

“I do have some concerns — and I think they are legitimate — about what the Legislature has done,” he said. Act 13 imposes the impact fees on drillers but takes away local zoning oversight over drilling operations in a municipality.

TribLive

 

PA. TOWNS SHOW SUPPORT FOR
NOCKAMIXON'S GAS DRILLING FIGHT

July 20, 2012 - In March, Nockamixon, Yardley and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network teamed up with several Western Pennsylvania communities to file a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas drilling law, claiming it strips away constitutional rights of citizens and local municipalities.

Though the resolutions do not include financial or legal backing, the number of communities that now stand with Nockamixon and Yardley in a show of opposition is significant, said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

PhillyBurbs

 

MUNICIPAL SUPPORT FOR ACT 13
CHALLENGE GROWING

July 19, 2012 - 67 municipalities opposing zoning pre-emption. In customarily deliberate and carefully considered fashion, municipalities throughout the state are publicly adopting resolutions and sending letters in support of the legal challenge to Act 13, the municipal takeover law that was adopted by the Pennsylvania Legislature and enacted by Governor Corbett’s signature in February 2012.

Act 13 removes municipal zoning of oil and gas operations, weakens environmental protections under the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, limits physicians’ rights to disclose gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) chemicals that their patients may be exposed to, and establishes an impact fee on natural gas.

Pike County Courier

 

PA. GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES NATURAL GAS DRILLING MORATORIUM IN BUCKS COUNTY

July 14, 2012 - “This legislation makes good on my promise that Act 13 was not intended to apply to Bucks County,” McIlhinney said. “My colleagues in Harrisburg never intended for the Marcellus Shale law to affect our region, and now that a newly discovered formation exists, they agree that a moratorium on drilling is appropriate to give us the same time to study and debate the issue for our local area.”

“The recent report by USGS has shed a new light on the possible circumstances in Bucks and other southeast PA counties. We believe it is necessary, given this new information, that these counties must be given the opportunity to have a greater say about things happening in their own backyard,” Mensch said. “Originally Act 13 was viewed as primarily an issue for the northern tier counties. This new information proves otherwise.”

Bucks Local News

 

BUCKS COUNTY'S FIRST POTENTIAL
GAS WELL HALTED

July 13, 2012 - Butler County-based gas and oil drilling company Turm Oil has been seeking to drill an exploratory natural gas well in Upper Bucks. The proposed site is on the 102-acre former Cabot chemical property in the township’s Revere section of Nockamixon.

Nockamixon supervisor Nancy Alessi is relieved that Turm Oil’s drilling application will not be grandfathered. “It gives us breathing room, but, in fact, we are still subject to Act 13,” said Alessi. The township will continue its legal challenge of Act 13, the state’s new gas drilling law. Nockamixon supervisors have partnered with a handful of other municipalities in opposition to the law; arguing that it strips local municipalities of their zoning authority.

PhillyBurbs

 

LOCAL DRILLING MORATORIUM
RANKLES REST OF STATE

July 10, 2012 – Just over a week ago, a ban on drilling for natural gas in a little-known rock formation under Bucks and Montgomery counties made its way into Pennsylvania law. It did so in a way the state's oft-maligned legislators had pledged to avoid: at the last minute, with no hearings and little substantive debate as lawmakers rushed to send Gov. Corbett the annual budget on time. What debate there was stretched nearly to midnight in a chamber that had vowed not to do the public's business after 11 p.m.

How the measure came about, who benefits, and whether it was even necessary are questions at the heart of an argument that lingers in the Capitol even as legislators have scattered for their summer break. The moratorium's chief backer, Sen. Charles McIlhinney (R., Bucks), says it was necessary in light of a new scientific study on the potential natural gas locked in the so-called South Newark Basin, which underlies parts of Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, and Berks Counties.

Philly .com

 

DRILLING MORATORIUM YIELDS
POLITICAL TAUNTS

July 6, 2012 - Last week, during the General Assembly’s budget crunch in Harrisburg, McIlhinney had a provision attached to the Pennsylvania Fiscal Code (Senate Bill 1263) that said the state Department of Environmental Protection would not issue permits to drill in the basin until the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources can study the area or until Jan. 1, 2018.

He said the legislation protects his constituents, as the basin was not involved in Act 13, which was written to allow drilling for Marcellus Shale, and established environmental controls and drilling impact fees. Opponents of Act 13 said local municipalities lost zoning control under the measure.

PhillyBurbs

 

TWO PA. COUNTIES EXEMPTED
FROM GAS DRILLING

July 5, 2012 - Language inserted into the state budget appears to give two counties in eastern Pennsylvania a gas drilling moratorium, drawing criticism from environmental groups as well as Washington County lawmakers who have watched their ability to regulate local zoning for gas drilling be eroded by recently enacted Act 13. The Republican majority added language to a budget bill approved on Saturday that is designed to prevent oil and gas drilling permits from being issued in the South Newark Basin until 2018. The South Newark Basin stretches from New Jersey into Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania.

Calling it a Bucks Backroom Deal, White noted that Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley lives in Bucks County and DEP Secretary Michael Krancer lives in Montgomery County. “If Act 13 isn’t good enough for two of the most blatantly pro-drilling members of the Corbett administration, why should the rest of us have to live under it?” he asked.

 

GAS COMPANY SUES
CECIL TOWNSHIP

July 3, 2012 - Claiming irreparable financial damage, MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC is suing Cecil Township. The company late last week also petitioned Commonwealth Court for a preliminary injunction to pave the way for the construction of a natural-gas compression station on property off Coleman Road near Route 980. MarkWest’s action came after township officials sent the company a letter, dated June 15, denying a second application by the company to use the property for the facility.

An application for a special exception was turned down in 2011, with the township zoning hearing board citing potential impact on neighboring properties and disagreeing with MarkWest’s claim of providing an “essential service.” Washington County Court of Common Pleas is hearing the company’s appeal of that decision. In its Commonwealth Court filings, MarkWest contends it should be permitted to build the compressor station because it meets requirements set forth in Act 13, which governs oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania, regarding distance from existing buildings and property lines, and anticipated noise levels. Cecil is among the municipalities that are mounting a legal challenge to Act 13.

Canon-McMillan Patch

 

PA SUPREME COURT DENIES INTERVENTION BY INDUSTRY GROUPS IN ACT 13 BATTLE

June 25, 2012 - Natural-gas industry representatives hoping to overturn the delayed-implementation of certain parts of Act 13 weredenied a request to intervene in the case Friday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

They had hoped to join the state’s Public Utilities Commission in asking for the lifting of the 120-day injunction that’s preventing the zoning portions of Act 13 from becoming law. The injunction was issued in April by Commonwealth Court and is due to expire Aug. 14.

 

MORRISVILLE BOROUGH JOINS OTHER MUNICIPALITIES IN ACT 13 LAWSUIT, OPPOSITION OF MARCELLUS SHALE DRILLING

June 21, 2012 - The borough has joined with a few other municipalities and interest groups around the state in opposing a new law on natural gas and oil drilling. A resolution on the matter was unanimously passed last month, which was recommended by the Morrisville Environmental Advisory Council (MEAC). There was no discussion on the topic among board members.

Debby Colgan, chairman of the MEAC, explained in a memo to borough council members why her group made the recommendation. “There are many, many flaws with Act 13,” Colgan wrote. “The most alarming for council is the reality that we have lost one of our most basic tools for shaping our community in a way that best meets our needs - zoning.”

Bucks Local News

 

CONNELLSVILLE COUNCIL OFFERS
SUPPORT OF ACT 13 LITIGATION

June 21, 2012 - City Council offered its support to ongoing litigation aimed at returning zoning matters to municipalities. In unanimous action, officials on Wednesday approved a resolution to back a lawsuit filed in April by other communities, agencies and individuals challenging a section of Act 13, the state’s oil and natural gas drilling law.

Governments located within this commonwealth to promulgate appropriate legislation to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens,” read Mayor Charles Matthews from the lengthy resolution. “We are opposed to the allowance of industrial uses in residential areas that would negatively impact our local government’s interests and concerns, as permitted by Act 13.”

Herald Standard

 

NOCKAMIXON GAS DRILLING LAWSUIT WILL LIKELY ADVANCE TO PA SUPREME COURT

June 18, 2012 - Attorneys for both the Nockamixon team and state legislators were before the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg on June 6, asking the panel of judges to rule in their favor.

The judges are expected to make a ruling by the end of this month at the earliest, said Nockamixon attorney Jordan Yeager. An alternate option to making a judgment would be for the Commonwealth Court to move the case forward by calling for both sides to gather evidence and proceed with public hearings, according to Yeager.

PhillyBurbs

 

SUGARLOAF TOWNSHIP SUPERS
OK RESOLUTION TO CHALLENGE ACT 13

June 18 - The Sugarloaf Township supervisors adopted a resolution in support of the challenge to Act 13 of 2012 at their meeting Tuesday. Act 13 provides for an oil and natural gas drilling impact fee in Pennsylvania.

Many municipalities across the state are protesting parts of the law, calling it unconstitutional, because oil and gas operations are not subject to zoning laws under the act. Locally, Hazle and Butler townships have passed a similar resolution. Black Creek Township supervisors are expected to vote on the matter in July.

Standard Speaker

 

HAZLE TOWNSHIP TO
OPPOSE ACT 13

June 17, 2012 - Hazle Township has joined a groundswell of opposition to state Act 13, which local officials say will strip communities of zoning and planning authority over gas and oil operations.

Township supervisors last week approved a resolution supporting efforts of Pennsylvania municipalities and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors to challenge legalities of the act. Supervisors in Butler and Sugarloaf townships also declared their support for the challenge last week.

Standard Speaker

 

BUTLER SUPERS ALSO
CHALLENGING OIL AND GAS ACT

June 17, 2012 - Butler Township supervisors adopted a resolution to support other Pennsylvania communities in challenging Act 13, the Oil and Gas Act, at their meeting Thursday night.

Township resident Marguerite Woelfel addressed the supervisors during their work session earlier in the week regarding Act 13, which she said stripped municipalities' zoning authority in regard to the oil and gas industries and gagged physicians who may be treating an illness related to industry drilling. "It's totally appalling," she said.

Standard Speaker

 

LIGONIER TOWNSHIP JOINS GAS-LAW FOES

June 12, 2012 - Ligonier Township has joined several Western Pennsylvania communities in opposing the controversial Act 13, the state oil and gas law that restricts the limitations municipalities can place on Marcellus shale gas drilling.

Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that opposes two parts of Act 13 that they say takes away the "reasonable regulation of land use and planning by Ligonier Township" and "denies the rights of local citizens to due process and protection of basic and fundamental rights."

TribLive

 

SUIT OVER PENNSYLVANIA MARCELLUS
SHALE LAW GOES TO JUDGES

June 7, 2012 - Among the objectionable provisions cited in the towns' March 29 lawsuit are requirements that drilling, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in every zoning district, including residential districts, as long as operators observe certain buffers. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Peters, Robinson, Mt. Pleasant and Cecil, all in Washington County, as well as South Fayette in Allegheny County.

The 174-page law established the first major levies on the Marcellus shale industry in Pennsylvania. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed the law Feb. 14. The panel of seven judges includes five Republicans and two Democrats.

TribLive

 

GAS DRILLING LAW DEBATED
IN STATE COURT

June 7, 2012 - Did the state overreach in its new law outlining where drilling sites and compressor stations can be located, or are municipal officials out of bounds in seeking to retain the ability to manage the industry themselves?

That question is now before a panel of seven Commonwealth Court judges, who spent more than an hour on Wednesday morning firing questions at attorneys dueling over the legality of the state's new gas drilling law. The standing-room-only court session was the first opportunity for lawyers representing a group of municipalities, a doctor and an environmental advocate to argue why they believe state limitations on how municipalities can craft zoning rules are inappropriate.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

MARCELLUS SHALE COALITION:
IN THE LOBBY

June 2012 - The Marcellus Shale Coalition and its partners have deep pockets. In 2010, Pennsylvania candidates received $2,608,187 in campaign donations, expect that number to double or triple for 2012.

The industry spent $3,370,000 between January – September 2011 on lobbying Pennsylvania legislators, and $1,300,000 just on Act 13. Range Resources spent $411,414 through the first nine months of last year to get its voice heard in the Capitol.

Story

 

OPPOSTION CONTINUES TO MOUNT
AGAINST 'ACT 13' STATE DRILLING LAWS

May 28, 2012 - Governor Tom Corbett approved the sweeping new drilling rules in February and implemented "impact fees" on the industry, hoping to streamline the industry and calm environmental concerns.

However, some critics aren't sold on the rules, called Act 13. Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network call the measure, "one of the worst environmental laws ever passed by the state legislature."

Story

 

DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH
ON ACT 13 CHANGES

May 25, 2012 - Pennsylvania’s new natural gas drilling overhaul, Act 13, has only been in effect for a month. But legislators are already flooding reporters’ in-boxes with press releases announcing new bills that would change the law.

House Democrats have introduced 6 separate bills, framing the legislation as their “Marcellus Compact.” The bills would eliminate Act 13’s local zoning restrictions, impose a broader tax on gas extraction, and create broader environmental protections. Some Republicans want a do-over, too.

StateImpact - Pennsylvania

 

IMPLICATIONS OF ACT 13
FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

RECEIVING SECRET INFORMATION ABOUT CHEMICALS USED IN HYDRAULIC FRACTURING - Pennsylvania recently enacted legislation which requires disclosure of certain chemical information related to hydraulic fracturing of unconventional wells. Two provisions of Act 13 set forth the conditions under which health professionals may obtain the specific identity or amount of chemicals claimed to be a trade secret or confidential proprietary information.

The first provision addresses routine health care situations for which the health professional has time to submit a written request for the Secret Information, and the second addresses medical emergencies. In both situations, the health professionalmust execute a confidentiality agreement as a condition of receiving the Secret Information.

PDF - 163KB

 

MARCELLUS OUTREACH BUTLER GROUP
VISITS PA. STATE REP. ABOUT ACT 13

May 21, 2012 - On Monday morning about 20 members of Marcellus Outreach Butler and their allies entered the office of state representative Brian Ellis (11th district) to call attention to the dangers created by Act 13 and demand justice for the ten families in Ellis' district whose water has been contaminated by fracking operations.

ACT 13 IS TOXIC LEGISLATION
Photo: ShadbushCollective

 

PENNSYLVANIA DOCTORS WORRY
OVER FRACKING GAG RULE

May 17, 2012 - A new law in Pennsylvania has doctors nervous. The law grants physicians access to information about trade-secret chemicals used in natural gas drilling. Doctors say they need to know what's in those formulas in order to treat patients who may have been exposed to the chemicals.

But the new law also says that doctors can't tell anyone else — not even other doctors — what's in those formulas. It's being called the "doctor gag rule." Doctors can get the chemical names only if they sign a confidentiality agreement and agree not to share that information.

NPR

 

MORE LEGAL MANEUVERING IN
PA. DRILLING ACT LAWSUIT

May 12, 2012 - Yet more legal maneuvering in the lawsuit over the constitutionality of the new state gas law took place Thursday. The plaintiffs in the suit, which include Cecil, Peters, Robinson and Mt. Pleasant townships, are asking the court to rule on whether portions of Act 13, the state's oil and gas drilling law, are constitutional. They would like the court to make a summary judgment ruling during the week of June 4 without it moving to trial.

The state had asked that the motion for summary judgment be denied on the grounds that it's premature under Pennsylvania rules of procedure, and their request was, in turn, denied by the court Thursday. Act 13 was approved by the state's Legislature and signed into law in February by Gov. Tom Corbett. It creates a uniform set of standards for oil and gas drilling throughout the state and allots impact fees for local municipalities.

 

ACT 13 SUIT TO BE ARGUED IN COMMONWEALTH
COURT WEEK OF JUNE 4th

May 10, 2012 - The lawsuit filed against the state's oil and gas drilling law will be argued before the state's nine-member Commonwealth Court in June.

Arguments will take place between June 4 and 8 in Harrisburg. Also, according to an order issued Wednesday, a representative from natural gas trade organizations and companies will be allowed five minutes to state their objections to the suit, which asks that portions of Act 13 be overturned on constitutional grounds.

 

WESTMORELAND COUNTY OFFICIAL JOINS FIGHT AGAINST DRILLING REGULATION

May 10, 2012 - While Westmoreland County will take no formal position on a lawsuit challenging zoning aspects of legislation overseeing Marcellus shale drilling in Pennsylvania, Commissioner Ted Kopas has signed on to support the litigation. Kopas, a Democrat, said Thursday he is backing the efforts of municipalities to have the law overturned.

"It's my way of showing disdain for the legislation," he said. In a letter of support, Kopas said the law pre-empts local zoning authority over natural gas and oil operations in all municipalities. He said it makes it impossible for local officials to meet their obligations under state law to oversee municipal planning codes.

TribLive

 

fracking

 

PA. DEMOCRATS AIM TO
CHANGE ACT 13

May 2, 2012 - State Democratic lawmakers are proposing six new bills aimed at changing Act 13, which addresses natural gas drilling throughout Pennsylvania. Terming Act 13 "an industry-friendly Marcellus Shale law," House Democrats have offered the Marcellus Compact, which includes bills designed to restore municipal zoning rights, increase well fees to $75,000 and track drilling wastewater.

"The zoning issue seems to be the one that gets people's attention more than anything else," said Bill Patton, spokesman for the Democratic Caucus.

 

JUDGE DENIES PUC'S REQUEST TO
MODIFY ACT 13 INJUNCTION ORDER

April 30, 2012 - The PUC had asked Keith Quigley, a visiting judge on the Commonwealth Court, to clarify whether the delay enjoins the agency from reviewing existing zoning ordinances to determine whether they violate either the Municipalities Planning Code or Act 13.

The plaintiff municipalities, however, had responded that the order clearly prohibits such review until the injunction is lifted. Quigley filed an order on Friday denying the PUC’s petition.

The Legal Intelligencer

 

PENNSYLVANIA P.U.C. DELAYS ACT 13 RELATED ORDER

April 26, 2012 - According to the PUC’s statement, “the Court’s preliminary injunction did not provide enough direction for the Commission to proceed issuing its Final Implementation Order at this time. In an effort to receive clarity on the scope of the injunction, the Commission has filed an expedited application to modify the court’s Order.”

The PUC is charged with collecting fee money, distributing it to local governments, and regulating which municipalities’ drilling regulations over­step new statewide guidelines.

StateImpact - Pennsylvania

 
DRILLING LAW SUMMARY
RELEASED BY PENNFUTURE

April 24, 2012 - The report outlines fairly straightforward aspects of the law, such as the procedure counties follow to impose an impact fee on gas wells, as well as how the fees will be collected and used. It also highlights controversial provisions, such as sections of the law that PennFuture says preclude public disclosure of records, including detailed wastewater tracking information kept by drillers, hydraulic fracturing chemicals designated as trade secrets, and some information collected by the Public Utility Commission to assess impact fees on drillers.

The law offers "no obvious way" to challenge a company's trade secret claim, the report says, and the PUC's deliberations about whether or not municipal ordinances properly allow the development of gas drilling are not subject to the state's open meetings law. The report also describes aspects of the law that differ from or curtail common powers that municipalities have to create ordinances and regulators have to stop environmental violators.

Times-Tribune
 

fracking chemicals
Fracking chemicals

 
JUDGE DENIES GOP REQUEST
TO INTERVENE IN SHALE LAWSUIT

April 21, 2012 - A Commonwealth Court judge on Friday denied requests by top Republican legislators and the gas-drilling industry to participate in a lawsuit challenging the state's Marcellus Shale law.

Senior Judge Keith B. Quigley wrote in his order that Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Sam Smith do not have a "legally enforceable interest" in defending the intent behind the law. He wrote that the interests of a collection of industry trade associations and companies will be represented as the state defends the constitutionality of the law.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
PA. STATE JUDGE DENIES REQUEST BY GAS INDUSTRY FOR ACT 13 INTERVENTION

April 20, 2012 - A Commonwealth Court judge ruled Friday that the gas industry and lawmakers could not intervene in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Act 13, which regulates oil and gas drilling.

In a 13-page decision, Senior Judge Keith Quigley said that the suit hinges on the constitutionality of the law and “the industry’s interests...have no bearing on that determination.”

 
HEALTH LAW EXPERT SAYS PA. DOCTORS SHOULD FEAR THE NEW DRILLING LAW

April 19, 2012 - A health law professor at Drexel University says the new law governing a doctor’s access to information about drilling chemicals to treat patients is both poorly drafted and incomplete. Barry Furrow is the director of the health law program at the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University.

Fur­row says the segment dealing with a doctor’s access to trade secret information is lifted right out of an OSHA rule. But he says, the Pennsylvania law lacks the nuances and wider pro­tections provided to workers under OSHA.

StateImpact - Pennsylvania

 
PROPOSED PA. SENATE BILL ADDRESSES MARCELLUS LAW IMPACT ON DOCTORS

April 18, 2012 - Legislation to address a controversy over doctors' access to trade secret information under Pennsylvania's new Marcellus Shale drilling impact fee law is being drafted by Sen. Daylin Leach, King of Prussia and is in response to a little-noticed requirement that doctors sign a confidentiality agreement in return for access to proprietary information on chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Mr. Leach proposes to remove the confidentiality clause for health care professionals who can demonstrate the information is necessary to treatment or diagnosis of a patient. He also wants a more comprehensive definition in law of the "medical necessity" exemption under which drillers must immediately provide requested information to a physician who can show those details are relevant to diagnosis or treatment. The Pennsylvania Medical Society raised questions earlier this month about the impact of confidentiality clause on patient-physician communication.

Times-Tribune

 
GAS INDUSTRY WANTS
A SAY IN SHALE LAWSUIT

April 18, 2012 - A Commonwealth Court judge said he hopes to rule by Monday on whether the gas-drilling industry and top Republican legislators should be permitted to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the state's new Marcellus Shale law. Drillers stand to lose a predictability and reliability in their business operations that the new law provides by standardizing local zoning rules.

Lawyers for the challengers replied that the question of whether the law is constitutional is one that merits a response from the state attorney general, not from the drilling industry. They also opposed intervention by the GOP lawmakers, which they argued would be duplicative, given that the attorney general's office already is involved.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
JUDGE HALTS PA. LAW
ON SHALE OVERSIGHT

April 12, 2012 - "Municipalities must have an adequate opportunity to pass zoning laws that comply with Act 13 without the fear or risk that development of oil and gas operations under Act 13 will be inconsistent with later validly passed local zoning ordinances," Quigley wrote.

His order halts only any part of the law that might "pre-empt pre-existing local ordinances" but denies the rest of the municipalities' injunction request to stop the entire law from going into effect. "What we were seeking was 100 percent what the court granted," said John Smith, the solicitor for Robinson and Cecil.

PittsburghLive

 
JUDGE HALTS ZONING LIMITS
IN PA. GAS DRILLING LAW

April 11, 2012 - A state judge is ordering a temporary halt to portions of Pennsylvania's new Marcellus Shale law that limit the power of municipalities to regulate the booming natural gas exploration industry.

Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Keith Quigley issued a 120-day injunction Wednesday after hearing arguments earlier in the day. The eight-week-old law's local-zoning provisions were scheduled to take effect Saturday.

Times-Tribune

 
PA. COMMONWEALTH COURT
TO HEAR ‘ACT 13’ SHALE APPEAL

April 11, 2012 - The judicial showdown over the state's new natural gas drilling law begins this morning in Commonwealth Court, where municipal officials will be making their case as to why the statute's provisions regarding zoning rules and chemical confidentiality are unconstitutional. This morning's hearing before a Harrisburg judge was scheduled expeditiously in light of the statute's looming effective date. The judge could decide to grant the request to halt the law or could allow the debate over zoning rights to proceed through the legal system without interfering with the statute's timeline.

Several industry operators -- Chesapeake Appalachia, MarkWest Liberty Midstream and Resources, and Penneco Oil Co. Inc. -- as well as the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group, have sought to intervene in the lawsuit. A hearing on that request has been scheduled for Tuesday morning. The challenge alleges that the ability of doctors to properly treat their patients is compromised because of the nondisclosure requirement. Gov. Corbett said he's "not familiar enough with the details of the legislation personally to get into making speculation or comment about it."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
IMMEDIATE INJUNCTION REQUESTED IN
MARCELLUS SHALE ‘ACT 13’ LAWSUIT

April 10, 2012 - Today, the municipalities involved in the lawsuit to overturn the newly enacted marcellus shale law filed a request for an immediate injunction to prevent the law from going into effect on April 14th. The parties are primarily concerned with those provisions of the legislation that limit the rights of local governments.  Local officials worry that citizens will suffer from construction related to drilling, specifically in residential areas.

Parties to the lawsuit include seven municipalities: Cecil, Peters, Mt. Pleasant and Robinson of Washington County, Yardley and Nockamixon of Bucks County, and South Fayette of Allegheny County. Dr. Mehernosh Kosh and environmentalists of the Delaware River Network are also suing.

 
WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA TOWNSHIP
RECEIVES SUPPORT FOR CHALLENGE

April 10, 2012 - Tullytown council wrote that the law "deprives local governments of inherent rights to control land use through zoning, and is a disturbing exercise of state power without precedent in the history of the Commonwealth." Hanover supervisors wrote that "Act 13 restricts our ability to ensure the equal protection of personal and property rights through zoning." Pittsburgh council's letter said the law is "unprecedented, misguided, and plain wrong."

Seven towns - including Cecil, Peters, Mount Pleasant Township and Robinson in Washington County, South Fayette in Allegheny County and Yardley and Nockamixon in Bucks County - have joined other plaintiffs in suing the state over zoning restrictions in the new natural gas drilling law. The case is scheduled for an expedited hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday before a Commonwealth Court judge in Harrisburg.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
PA. TOWNSHIP GETS WORDS OF
SUPPORT OVER ACT 13 APPEAL

April 10, 2012 - Ever since appealing the state's new oil and gas drilling law, Robinson Township Supervisor Brian Coppola gets 100 or more emails a day. They come from municipalities all across the state indicating their support of the lawsuit initiated by Robinson, Peters, Mt. Pleasant and Cecil townships seeking to strike down Act 13.

On Wednesday, a hearing on whether a preliminary injunction to Act 13 should be granted will be held in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg. Attorney John M. Smith, Robinson and Cecil's solicitor, will argue for the injunction to the act which is slated to go into effect April 14. As more and more municipal officials read the actual legislation, they are starting to panic, Coppola explained after a township meeting Monday night. He said the state's Municipal Planning Code and Act 13 are incompatible.

 

GAS INDUSTRY GROUPS SEEK TO JOIN
FIGHT AGAINST PA. MUNICIPALITIES

April 5, 2012 - A coalition of oil and gas industry companies is challenging a group of municipalities who are suing the state of Pennsylvania over a new law that aims to regulate gas drilling.

The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association, the Marcellus Shale Coalition and several companies filed a legal petition Thursday morning, seeking to intervene in the lawsuit filed by municipalities last week.

The Ithaca Journal

 

EARLY HEARING SCHEDULED ON
NEW PA. OIL, GAS LAW

April 5, 2012 - The state's new oil and gas law will be challenged in court April 11 for the first time after several suburbs on Wednesday won their request for an expedited hearing from a state appeals court.

Commonwealth Court will conduct a preliminary hearing on the challenge just four days before the wide-sweeping reforms go into effect. At stake are revisions of oil and gas law that took three years to pass, as well as rights that municipalities say they have on where and when drilling can happen.

PittsburghLive

 
PITTSBURGH COUNCIL SUPPORTS
CHALLENGE OF SHALE REGS

April 3, 2012 - Pittsburgh City Council, a well-known foe of the Marcellus Shale industry, this morning sent a message of support to seven municipalities that sued the state over the new natural gas drilling law. Under Act 13, municipalities must forfeit their "moral and legal obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare" of their residents, says the resolution, written by council President Darlene Harris.

"It's misguided, and it's just plain wrong to take zoning and planning away from each individual municipality," Mrs. Harris said. Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said Act 13 is "absurd." "This bill was written in secret," Ms. Rudiak said. "It was passed practically in secret. There was no public scrutiny of the final language." In 2010, council banned gas production in the city because of health and environmental concerns.

 
BERKS, PA. GROUP CALLS ON COMMISSIONERS TO RECONSIDER DECISION

April 1, 2012 - Berks Gas Truth is calling on the Berks County commissioners to reconsider the decision they made at their meeting March 29 to adopt an ordinance that will allow the county to accept impact fees for future drilling of the Utica shale in northern Berks. The grassroots community group has been fighting unconventional natural gas drilling since it was founded in 2010 and was very active in the fight against the state Impact Fee legislation, now known as Act 13.

In a letter to the commissioners that garnered 100 signatures in 36 hours, Berks Gas Truth asks that they choose instead to take action to protect Berks County from unconventional natural gas drilling. Among the signers is a former Berks resident who owns property here but resides in the Marcellus region. He wants to protect Berks from what he calls the atrocity of drilling.

Story     Berks Gas Truth

 
MAYBE LAWSUIT WILL SHED LIGHT
ON PA. GAS DRILLING LEGISLATION

April 1, 2012 - About the only thing that seems clear about Pennsylvania’s gas drilling law is that Republicans were for it and Democrats were against it. It’s hard to believe — hard but not impossible — that Republicans would “(sell) out the citizens of the commonwealth,” as Jordan Yeager, attorney for Nockamixon and Riverkeepers, charged in a press release.

We continue to be amazed how two state lawmakers could read exactly the same bill and come to such diametrically opposite positions. Only one conclusion is possible: One of them doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That means a good many members of the House and Senate either voted for or against a bill without having any idea what they were voting on. Another real confidence builder in our state Legislature.

PhillyBurbs

 

ANOTHER PA. COUNTY VOICES
SUPPORT FOR ACT 13 LAWSUIT

April 1, 2012 - Luzerne County Council voted to support a legal challenge to overturn the new state law regulating natural gas drilling and operations, but county officials are not planning to join the lawsuit opposing Act 13. Council voted Tuesday to support a motion "that Luzerne County support the efforts of other governmental entities and other groups challenging the constitutionality of Act 13."

Councilman Stephen A. Urban said he thinks the county should join the litigation. The following municipalities have joined the lawsuit to overturn Act 13: Peters, Robinson, Mount Pleasant and Cecil townships in Washington County, South Fayette Twp. in Allegheny County; and Nockamixon Twp. and Yardley in Bucks County.

Times-Tribune

 

PROVISION IN MARCELLUS SHALE
BILL PROMPTS CONTROVERSY

March 30, 2012 - Public health advocates and some environmental groups are crying foul over a provision in Act 13. The groups claim the wording in the law, which regulates shale drilling, amounts to a gag order for doctors when it comes to chemicals that may make people sick, but industry advocates say that’s not the case.

The rule in question governs disclosure of fracking chemicals and formulas. It requires health care workers to sign a non-disclosure agreement if they’re treating a patient who may have been sickened by trade-secret chemicals. Groups, including Communities United for Rights and Environment, or CURE, recently released an ad, claiming there’s more to the law. Part of the ad states, “If you get sick, your doctor must ask the driller to list the trade secret chemicals making you sick, and then your doctor must keep their secrets a secret.”

Essential Public Radio

 

TOWNS SUE PENNSYLVANIA OVER
MARCELLUS SHALE LAW

March 29, 2012 – Among the objectionable provisions cited by the lawsuit are requirements that drilling, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in every zoning district, including residential districts, as long as certain buffers are observed. "As municipalities can expect hundreds of wells, numerous impoundments, miles of pipelines, several compressor and processing plants, all within (their) borders, they will be left to plan around rather than plan for orderly growth," the lawsuit said.

The industry began descending on Pennsylvania in 2008 in earnest to tap into the Marcellus Shale, a natural gas formation deep underground that is considered the nation's largest-known reservoir. Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, took office in 2011 and backed the industry's objectives. 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.

 
PA. MUNICIPALITIES FILE LAWSUIT
AGAINST NEW SHALE DRILLING LAW

March 29, 2012 - Seven municipalities that banded together in recent weeks in opposition to state's Marcellus Shale gas drilling law filed a suit this afternoon challenging whether the state was authorized to supersede local regulation of gas drilling. The municipalities -- which include the southwestern towns of Cecil, Peters, South Fayette, Mt. Pleasant and Robinson -- are joined in the suit by a Monroeville doctor, environmental activists from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and a handful of municipal officials contesting the law in their personal capacities. Two towns in the state's southeast, Yardley and Nockamixon of Bucks County, also signed on to the suit.

The 117-page suit was filed with the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg this afternoon. It names as defendants Department of Environmental Protection secretary Michael Krancer, attorney general Linda Kelly, and Robert Powelson, who chairs the Public Utility Commission. The suit points to two recent cases heard by state appellate courts that the petitioners say show protection for local zoning rights in overseeing oil and gas operations.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette     Petition – Part 1 (PDF)     Petition – Part 2 (PDF)

 

Rebellion in Pennsylvania against ACT 13 of 2012

 

PITTSBURGH SUBURBS
PART OF DRILLING SUIT

March 29, 2012 - Municipalities can't plan for growth, can't protect their natural resources and can't set limits on where oil and gas drilling can happen because laws that the state passed in February took away those powers, according to the first challenge of the state's new oil and gas laws. Five growing suburbs southwest of Pittsburgh -- with help from two towns and an environmental group in eastern Pennsylvania -- filed the challenge on Thursday in the state appeals court system in Harrisburg.

"It's not an easy case, but what the Legislature has done here is unprecedented," said William R. Sittig Jr., a Downtown attorney who has argued land-use cases in front of the state Supreme Court. "These are core questions with broad-reaching impacts, not just for this industry, but for other industries and others that come along in the future. How far can the Legislature go with individual industries? It's a seminal type of question."

PittsburghLive

 
PA. TOWN COUNCIL OFFERS MORAL
SUPPORT VS. ONEROUS ACT 13

March 29, 2012 - Murrysville officials support challenging the new state Marcellus shale regulations but aren't ready to get involved in any lawsuits. Municipal council last week sent a letter of support to a group of community leaders spearheaded by Brian Coppola, chairman of the Robinson Township board of commissioners in Washington County.

The group — which represents at least 40 municipalities — is expected to seek court intervention on the law before it goes into effect on April 16 — something Murrysville officials aren't ready to throw their name behind yet.

 
PA. COUNCIL VOTES IN FAVOR
OF OVERTURNING ACT 13

March 28, 2012 - Luzerne County Council unanimously voted Tuesday to support local municipalities trying to overturn a new state law that regulates natural-gas drilling and operations. Several municipalities have announced plans to file a lawsuit to overturn Act 13, which prevents municipalities from enacting zoning restrictions on oil and gas operations that conflict with state regulations. About a dozen people at Tuesday's council meeting applauded the unanimous vote.

Act 13, which the state Legislature passed last month, also allows counties to enact a per-well impact fee on drillers based on the average annual price of natural gas. County council postponed a vote to approve the impact fee at Tuesday's meeting, opting to reintroduce the ordinance because it was not properly introduced two weeks ago. A vote is now expected April 10. Exeter resident Nancy Dolan said she is pleased council voted to support overturning Act 13 but still wants council to vote against the fee, adding the state would argue that accepting revenue from the fee validates Act 13.

Story

 
PA. TOWNSHIP CONFIRMS VOTE
TO FIGHT ONEROUS ‘ACT 13’

March 27, 2012 - Peters Township Council, to ensure a vote last week was legal, authorized the township to join with several other municipalities in an appeal to the recently passed Act 13 that regulates oil and gas drilling. The second vote was taken during council’s Monday meeting.

Township officials feel the new state law strips municipalities of the power to regulate gas drilling on a local level. The appeal involves a request for a temporary injunction to halt implementation of the act that is set to be effective April 14. The appeal will be heard in Commonwealth Court.

 

PA. LEGISLATORS GRADED
FOR MARCELLUS BILL STANCE

March 25, 2012 - A recent report card by environmental groups rates some state legislators as champions for the environment and criticizes others for their votes on last month’s Marcellus Shale bill. Conservation Voters of PA, Penn Environment, Clean Water Action and the Sierra Club distributed about 1,000 copies of the eight-page, green-and-white “scorecard” to media outlets and the legislators. The fact sheet summarizes legislators’ votes on Act 13 — the omnibus Marcellus Shale bill signed Feb. 13 by Gov. Tom Corbett.

McNeil slammed Act 13 for a “failure to raise revenues and the stripping of local control by the state. It takes away the right of local government to determine where gas operations can happen in their town. In the past, a local government could say ‘do not put a gas drilling operation next to a elementary school.’” “It is important that Pennsylvania citizens fully understand how their legislators behaved during consideration of the most important environmental bill in a decade,” McNeil said. “Going forward we will work with citizens to help them understand the scorecard and hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.”

Times Herald     Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Scorecard (PDF)

 
NEW ANTI-FRACKING RADIO AD
TAKES AIM AT PA. ‘ACT 13’

March 23, 2012 - "Our municipal leaders have been stripped of the right to zone gas drilling facilities," the ad says. "Fracking and toxic waste ponds can be 500 feet or closer to our homes, schools, hospitals, day cares and water bodies. Noxious water processing plants can be 750 feet or closer."

The 60-second ad ends with, "Sound like a good deal for Pennsylvanians?"

Pa Just Powers website     Ad (MP3) audio (60 seconds)

 
LAWSUIT AGAINST ONEROUS ‘ACT 13
OF 2012’ GAINS TRACTION IN PA.

March 22, 2012 - A move among several elected community leaders seeking a court order to halt the implementation of a new oil and gas law is gaining momentum in Western Pennsylvania. A proposed lawsuit supported by leaders in five communities, a draft of which the Tribune-Review obtained, claims Act 13 unconstitutionally strips local governments of some of their power to regulate oil and gas drilling. The General Assembly last month approved the measure, which is scheduled to take effect April 14.

"We've had overwhelming support in terms of municipalities joining as plaintiffs," John Smith, the solicitor who is working on the lawsuit pro bono on behalf of Cecil and Robinson townships, said on Wednesday. He expects to file the lawsuit next week in Commonwealth Court. The petitioners expected to fight the law include Peters, Robinson, Mt. Pleasant and Cecil, all in Washington County, as well as South Fayette, where township commissioners voted to join last night.

PittsburghLive

 
PA. COUNTY COUNCIL URGED
TO REJECT ‘ACT 13 OF 2012’

March 22, 2012 – Opponents of state legislation on natural-gas drilling urged Luzerne County Council members to reject an ordinance establishing a gas impact fee at Wednesday's work session. "I will vote no," Councilman Stephen J. Urban told a crowd of about 20. "I am taking a stand."

Opponents of the impact fee law say Act 13 overturns local drilling ordinances, sets one of the nation's lowest natural gas extraction fees and makes only minimal improvements in environmental protections. "This is a joke. Throw it back in their faces," Kingston resident Brian Shiner told council members, adding the revenue would be "a pittance." Act 13 says municipalities must allow for reasonable development of oil and gas, and municipalities can't regulate oil and gas operations controlled by the state.

Standard Speaker

 
CECIL, PETERS LATEST TO JOIN ACTION
ON ONEROUS PA. GAS DRILLING LAW

March 21, 2012 - Both Cecil and Peters townships have signed on to a lawsuit that will challenge the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's freshly approved law regulating oil and gas drilling. Supervisors in Cecil voted 3-1 Tuesday morning to join the action, following fast on the heels of Peters Township Council, which came on board Monday night. A decision is anticipated today in South Fayette Township, just over the line from Cecil in Allegheny County.

Other communities that are part of the suit are Mt. Pleasant and Robinson townships in the northwestern corner of Washington County. Many local lawmakers have skewered Act 13, which was approved by the General Assembly in February and creates a uniform set of conditions and rules for oil and gas drilling throughout the commonwealth. They contend the law is overly broad and strips away local authority to control gas drilling in their communities.

 
MORE PA. COUNTIES LEVY
GAS DRILLING FEE

March 20, 2012 - All told, 45 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties are taking some action to adopt ordinances, according to the CCAP survey. Giving counties with active Marcellus wells an option of levying an annual fee on drilling in their midst is the central feature of the state impact fee law last month.

Counties have until April 16 to adopt the necessary ordinance in order to get revenue from gas production this year and retroactively for 2011. After that, if eligible counties that don't opt in, municipal officials get a chance to weigh in through an override provision. Half of the municipalities in a county, meeting either a 50 percent numerical or 50 percent population threshold, can vote up to June 13 to authorize a countywide impact fee to get revenue this year.

Times Tribune

 
NOCKAMIXON JOINING ‘PENNSYLVANIA
REBELLION’ AGAINST DRACONIAN ACT 13

March 18, 2012 - Act 13 dissolves the zoning rights of municipalities in regard to oil and gas "operations," a broad term that includes everything from well pads and drilling operations to pipelines and compressor stations. The law states municipalities must allow operations in all zoning districts. And they cannot place more stringent restrictions on setbacks, wells, and other zoning issues than those provided in Act 13 unless they apply those restrictions to all industrial activity.

In what could be a test case for the new law, Nockamixon plans to fight it in court. The township supervisors gave solicitor Jordan Yeager approval last month to rally other municipalities and build a lawsuit against Act 13. Yeager declined to identify specific municipalities he's talked to, but said some are in western Pennsylvania. No suits have been filed yet. Yeager called the law unconstitutional, arguing that the state Constitution and federal laws demand that municipalities protect the environment, historical places and other things. The way municipalities do that, he said, is through zoning.

Story

 
FRACKING:
PENNSYLVANIA GAGS PHYSICIANS

March 17, 2012 – “I have never seen anything like this in my 37 years of practice,” says Dr. Helen Podgainy, a pediatrician from Coraopolis, Pa. She says it’s common for physicians, epidemiologists, and others in the health care field to discuss and consult with each other about the possible problems that can affect various populations. Her first priority, she says, “is to diagnose and treat, and to be proactive in preventing harm to others.” The new law, she says, not only “hinders preventative measures for our patients, it slows the treatment process by gagging free discussion.”

The law is not only “unprecedented,” but will “complicate the ability of health department to collect information that would reveal trends that could help us to protect the public health,” says Dr. Jerome Paulson, director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Paulson calls the law “detrimental to the delivery of personal health care and contradictory to the ethical principles of medicine and public health.” Physicians, he says, “have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect the health of the public, and this law precludes us from doing all we can to protect the public.”

Story

 

 
40 PA. TOWNSHIPS MAY HAVE
ALREADY JOINED LEGAL CHALLENGE

March 17, 2012 - Mt. Pleasant Township supervisors during a special meeting Saturday opted into a proposed municipal challenge to a new state law that lifts local zoning regulations on the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.

Supervisors voted 2-1 to join with as many as 40 municipalities in Pennsylvania to possibly seek an injunction in Commonwealth Court to stay the implementation of Act 13 signed into law in mid February by Gov. Tom Corbett, a move the local governments believe violates the state Constitution.

 
PETERS TWP. COUNCIL SAYS NEW PA.
OIL & GAS ACT ‘IMPAIRS’ TOWNSHIP

March 13, 2012 - Peters council discussed a preliminary draft of a proposed legal challenge to the Oil and Gas Act at its meeting Monday night. Legislation approved by the General Assembly last month strips some of local governments' powers over oil and gas drilling and creates a more streamlined system of zoning rules across the state's municipalities.

"This supercedes our ability to plan (for development)," said Councilman David Ball. "It very seriously impairs the township. It will detract from property values." Peters officials have reached out to other communities to garner support for the legal challenge, Ball said.

PittsburghLive

 
PENNSYLVANIA'S LIBERTY BELL:
CRACKED, NOW FRACKED

March 12, 2012 - (originally published March 7) - Pennsylvania, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed and where the U.S. coal, oil and nuclear industries began, has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients. 

The draconian new law, known as Act 13, revises the state’s oil and gas statutes, to allow oil companies to drill for natural gas using the controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, where large volumes of water and toxic chemicals are pumped into vertical wells with lateral bores to shatter the rock and release the hydrocarbons. The law strips rights from communities and individuals while imposing new statewide drilling rules.

Story

 
PA. FRACKING LAW RESTRICTS
DOCTORS FROM SHARING VITAL INFO

March 11, 2012 - A new Pennsylvania law endangers public health by forbidding health care professionals from sharing information they learn about certain chemicals and procedures used in high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. There is another reality, however. The legal and financial resources of the natural gas corporations are far greater than those of individuals, and they can both stall and outspend most legal challenges.

Physicians and others who work with citizen health issues may request specific information, but the company doesn't have to provide that information if it claims it is a trade secret or proprietary information. If a company does release information about what is used, health care professionals are bound by a non-disclosure agreement that not only forbids them from warning the community of water and air pollution that may be caused by fracking, but which also forbids them from telling their own patients what the physician believes may have led to their health problems.

Story

 
PENNSYLVANIA LAW FAILS
TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH

March 11, 2012 - Gov. Tom Corbett recently signed a bill that goes beyond just ignoring concerns about the potential human health effects of Marcellus Shale drilling, it retains some of the worst aspects of industry secrecy about proprietary hydrofracking chemicals while making unethical demands on physicians. The governor's 32-member commission included no health professionals, and the seven state agencies involved did not include the state Department of Health.

Rather than providing health personnel with direction on how to prepare for potential exposures to toxic chemicals in the air, water or soil, or to accidents similar to those that already have occurred, the law sets up an obstacle course that health care providers must navigate to secure information about proprietary chemicals -- information needed to diagnose and treat patients. This obstacle course also presents an ethical dilemma for a doctor who treats a child exposed by playing too close to a Marcellus Shale drilling site.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
ANOTHER W. PA. TOWN CONSIDERS
JOINING SHALE LAWSUIT

March 8, 2012 - Murrysville council members agreed on Wednesday that they must know what direction other regional municipalities are taking before joining a potential lawsuit stemming from state legislation governing Marcellus shale drilling. Murrysville Chief Administrator Jim Morrison told council that several communities, mainly in Washington and southern Allegheny counties, are seeking support in preparation to possibly file a lawsuit against the state.

In a bill passed Feb. 14, state legislators imposed certain standards, fees and restrictions on drilling. In October 2011, Murrysville passed its own ordinance addressing the issue and publicly opposed state control because it would strip local governments' oversight. The municipality has been evaluating its ordinance since the state's bill passed. Pennsylvania's law will go into effect in April. Municipalities have until August to formulate their own ordinances that match up to the state's standards.

PittsburghLive

 
ANOTHER PA. TOWNSHIP PLANS
TO FIGHT NEW GAS LAW

March 6, 2012 – Cecil Township has joined a handful of other Washington County municipalities considering legal action against the state's new law regulating oil and gas drilling. Supervisors voted Monday 4-1 to authorize township solicitor John Smith to investigate banding together with other municipalities to challenge the law. They'll be joining Mt. Pleasant, Robinson, Peters and South Strabane townships.

Smith described it as, "a special law that's earmarked for one industry." State Rep. Jesse White opposed the bill when it came up for a vote last month and said "some things passed by the legislature are found to be in violation of state law. It happens all the time." He added, "The people who voted for the law know it's a bad law."

 
FIGHT BREWING OVER PA.
DRILLING RULES ON ZONING

March 3, 2012 - In the final weeks before the Legislature approved a sweeping Marcellus Shale law, Brian Coppola met with his area's lawmakers to warn against stripping municipalities of their zoning power to influence the location of drilling rigs, wastewater pits and compressor stations. The township official even met with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, Gov. Tom Corbett's point man on Marcellus Shale issues—but he couldn't change enough minds.

"Municipalities right now are in panic mode because nobody believed they would do something like this," said Coppola, chairman of the Robinson Township supervisors in Washington County, about 20 miles west of Pittsburgh, where drilling is brisk and plentiful. Municipalities can no longer adequately protect homes or businesses, and possibly even schools or parks, from nearby drilling activity that could damage a community's quality of life and property values.

Story

 
PA. COUNTY COMMISSIONERS:
GAS IMPACT FEE LIMITS CONTROL

February 24, 2012 - It looks like the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry "impact fee" represents a slippery slope, both in terms of financial reward and potential damage to the environment and local control of zoning. On Thursday, the Clinton County commissioners slammed the recently approved legislation on just those fronts, even while approving the hiring of a new soils and sedimentation professional as a hedge against those outcomes.

Clearly, those legislators who designed "Act 13," wanted to limit local governments' ability to zone natural gas drilling, they said. Commissioners said the erosion of local control will likely come back to haunt local communities by preempting their ability to restrict gas industry locations, pipes and drilling rigs away from residential communities.

Story

 
WHISKEY REBELLION COUNTRY TURNS
INTO SHALE REBELLION COUNTRY

February 23, 2012 - Mt. Pleasant Township is the latest municipality considering a legal challenge to the state's new natural gas impact fee law. The new legislation limits imposing local land use ordinances on the natural gas industry. Supervisor Arden McCartney said the new law was contrary to township code that calls for officials to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents.

Several township residents urged supervisors to join other municipalities whose officials have indicated they may challenge the new law. Among them are Robinson, Peters and South Strabane townships. Other townships, including Cecil and South Fayette, are considering opposing the law. Many of these municipalities spent many months developing their own oil and gas ordinances, only to have it superceded by the state law.

 
ROB ROGERS - PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE
 
PA. SEN. SOLOBAY ‘SELL OUT’
SPARKS PROTEST

February 17, 2012 - Sharp chants decrying state Sen. Tim Solobay's yes vote on gas impact fee legislation accompanied Perry Como's smooth croon outside the Canonsburg Borough building Thursday. "Solobay sold us out," about a dozen protesters shouted.

Jacie Carter argued lawmakers didn't do enough to ensure that gas well-related activities will take place at a safe distance. "When deliberating a distance of placement of their compressor stations from our children's classrooms, protecting the rights and safety of your most humblest of constituents in Washington and Greene counties should be your priority, not the protection of your Southpointe constituents' bank accounts," she said.

 
PA. TOWN COUNCILS BEGIN TO DEAL
WITH BAD DRILLING LEGISLATION

Video

 
NEW PA. SHALE BILL
VIOLATES MEDICAL ETHICS

February 16, 2012 - Public health professionals say the impact fee law signed by Governor Corbett this week could hurt the delivery of health services to injured workers or residents living near gas drilling sites. The legislation allows drillers to withhold information on the chemicals used to frack natural gas wells if the company deems them proprietary, or a trade secret. This would include the chemical’s identity and the concentration level.

A provision does allow health providers access to the information in order to treat a patient, but requires the healthcare worker to sign a confidentiality agreement, that obligates the medical professional to use the information only to treat an individual patient. Dr. Jerome Paulson, Professor of Pediatrics & Public Health at George Washington University, says the law runs counter to medical ethics.

StateImpact - Pennsylvania

 
PA. OFFICIALS RECOIL AT
NEW GAS LAW’S CONTENT

February 16, 2012 - We need to elect better poker players to represent us in Harrisburg. Pennsylvanians have been sitting on an unbelievable hand: the largest natural gas field outside of Iran, located a half-continent closer to the vast East Coast markets than the traditional drilling states.

The industry has boomed under the current zoning laws. America's Largest Full-Time State Legislature and our governor nonetheless joined forces recently to give us a new law that takes away local governments' ability to restrict drilling in residential areas. Critics say this "industry bill'' includes language that seems to keep drilling away from homes and other buildings, but that a driller could drive a truck through the loopholes.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
GAS DRILLERS’
NEW WILD WEST

February 16, 2012 - Pennsylvania's long-awaited Marcellus Shale legislation, signed by Gov. Corbett this week, reflects an approach to managing the state's resources that is reminiscent of the Wild West-style energy extraction of the late 19th century.

The state governments of that era sought to minimize limits on energy extraction and assist developers wherever possible. Pennsylvania embodied that model in the decades following Edwin Drake's discovery of oil in Titusville in 1859. In recent generations, American governments have almost uniformly abandoned that laissez-faire approach. But Pennsylvania's recently passed gas-drilling legislation represents a blast to the past.

Philly .com

 

ACT 13

 
PA. TOWNSHIP COMMISSIONERS
EYE LEGAL ACTION ON STATE SHALE BILL

February 16, 2012 - South Fayette commissioners are exploring legal action against the state over provisions of the bill that stripped them of their ability to restrict where natural gas drilling could occur. The new regulations on natural gas drilling allow counties to impose an impact fee on drillers, but prevent municipalities from blocking drilling from certain zoning like residential areas.

South Fayette had been sued last year by Range Resources over zoning restrictions the township passed in 2010. "The issue is whether the Legislature has the ability to write legislation for one specific industry that eviscerates 150 years of established law," Kamin said.

PittsburghLive

 
PA. PUC TO HIRE PRIVATE FIRM
TO COLLECT MARCELLUS FEES

February 15, 2012 - The state Public Utility Commission is assuming new regulatory duties under the Marcellus Shale drilling impact fee law and one of its early moves will be hiring a private firm to handle the collection and distribution of potentially millions of dollars.

PUC Chairman Robert Powelson said Tuesday the agency will seek formal bids from accounting or consulting companies to handle the administrative fee duties given it under the impact fee law signed Monday by Gov. Tom Corbett. The agency has a similar outsourcing arrangement for fees going to a telephone service fund that it oversees, added Mr. Powelson.

Times-Tribune

 
PA. TOWNSHIP TO CONTEST
NEW MARCELLUS LAW

February 14, 2012 - The same day Gov. Tom Corbett added his signature to the state's new natural gas impact fee bill, one local municipality took steps to challenge the new statute. The Robinson Township Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to have its solicitor take action to protect the township's zoning rights related to House Bill 1950.

The bill passed the House Wednesday and calls for gas extraction companies to pay a fee for drilling in the state, but pre-empts local zoning ordinances that determine where the activity can take place. Under the new law, gas drilling would be permitted in residential areas and setbacks would be less than what many local municipalities now allow. Township Attorney John Smith, of Smith Butz of Canonsburg, said the township is concerned about its mandate to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens. One major provision for that has been local zoning, he said.

 
PA. GOVERNOR CORBETT SIGNS
CONTROVERSIAL SHALE BILL

February 14, 2012 - The Marcellus Shale impact fee and regulatory measure that passed the General Assembly last week is now law, after Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed it on Monday evening. He described the measure, which will charge drillers a per-well fee, update state environmental regulations and subject local zoning ordinances to state-crafted standards, a historic overhaul of state law.

Most of the measure goes into effect in 60 days. However, the portion requiring each county within the drilling region to decide whether to impose the impact fee is effective immediately. Those counties have 60 days to adopt an ordinance imposing the fee on shale wells.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
BOOM AND BUST:
PA. IMPACT FEE MAY BE TOO LATE

February 13, 2012 - Rural residents who decided to fix up family farms rather than move to smaller homes may be hard-pressed if their gas leases aren't renewed. Small-business owners who expanded their operations to serve gas companies may find they can't pay their bills. Let's hope the Marcellus Shale Coalition's relentless boosterism didn't exacerbate a climate of overspeculation and make the pain worse.

Industries that grow too quickly and then pull back painfully create a toxic boom-and-bust cycle. Pennsylvania needs an energy industry that is economically and environmentally sustainable, guided by academics who provide prudent advice and careful analysis. That would do more to safeguard our communities and natural resources than any amount of impact fees.

Philly .com

 
TAX OR FEE?  ASK PA.
GOVERNOR CORBETT

February 13, 2012 - Pennsylvania will shortly have an impact fee for Marcellus Shale. Grover Norquist called it a tax, but Pennsylvania Republicans passed it anyway. Gov. Tom Corbett, who signed Norquist’s pledge, plans to sign the Marcellus bill, too, according to his spokesmen. Political reality trumps ideology.

The Commonwealth Foundation posted a list of the representatives who had signed Norquist’s no-tax pledge to the Internet under the headline “Will These House Members Honor Their Pledge?"  "Will they or won’t they keep their word to the families of Pennsylvania?” it asked.

PennLive



 

 

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