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Decision restores Murrysville's right to regulate shale drilling

| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A state Supreme Court decision has restored Murrysville officials' rights to regulate Marcellus shale drilling.

Last week, the Supreme Court returned constitutional powers to municipalities and community leaders with a 4-2 decision overturning large portions of Act 13, the state's oil-and-gas regulations.

“I'm ecstatic with what they've done,” Murrysville Councilman Dave Perry said. “They've come back and said that drilling procedures and gathering has an impact on the quality of people's lives.”

Murrysville adopted its own regulations in October 2011, but that ordinance was superseded by the state legislators' adoption of Act 13 in February 2012.

Municipal officials did not support the restrictions of the act. While council did not financially back the legal challenged filed by several southwest Pennsylvania communities, it issued letters of support and backed a plea by the National Resource Defense Council in September 2012. That “friend-of-the-court” brief was filed by a New York City-based nonprofit group that lobbies in favor of environmental issues and against Marcellus shale drilling in favor of overturning the legislation.

Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison said council will reexamine its ordinance to see if there is additional information that needs to be addressed.

He said he was pleased that the ruling supported the idea that municipalities can continue to handle zoning locally. “The ruling is pretty clear,” Morrison said. “The industry had an impact on the environment and citizens' rights to clean air and clean water, and local communities have the right to protect that.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627.

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