Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pa Supreme Court to hear more arguments on Act 13

Natural gas drilling workers at site in Bradford County, Pa.- AP Photo
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments related to its December, 2013 decision regarding the state’s comprehensive update to its oil and gas law, known as Act 13.

Susan Phillips writes in StateImpact:

In an order published this week, the court determined that it would take up several unresolved issues, but it would not revisit its interpretation of article 1, section 27 of the state constitution, also known as the Environmental Rights Amendment.
In the 2013 landmark decision, a plurality of justices ruled that it would be unconstitutional for the state to preempt local zoning decisions, as outlined in the new oil and gas law approved by the legislature and signed by then Governor Tom Corbett back in February, 2012.
Three justices, including Chief Justice Ron Castille, struck down the provision based on what was at the time, the state’s little known Environmental Rights Amendment, which guarantees ”clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. ”
The decision was both surprising and controversial, celebrated by environmentalists, and derided by industry attorneys.
Environmentalists and municipalities had also challenged other aspects of Act 13, including what became known as the “doctor gag rule,” eminent domain for gas storage facilities, and the exclusion from notification of hazardous spills for owners and residents relying on private water sources.
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