Suit over Pennsylvania Marcellus shale law goes to judges
HARRISBURG -- A constitutional challenge by seven municipalities to Pennsylvania's new law regulating the growth of natural gas exploration is in the hands of seven Commonwealth Court judges upon a hearing on Wednesday in which they repeatedly challenged lawyers from both sides in the closely watched case.
The municipalities want the law overturned; the state wants the case thrown out. The judges could ask for more evidence before making a final ruling or could strike down only parts of the law. Lawyers said they expect a ruling within several months.
The heart of the argument is the extent of the state's power to tell municipalities where they must allow drilling-related activity, including rigs, waste pits, pipelines and the compressor and processing stations that help move gas from the underground Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania to consumers across the northeastern United States.
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 -- allowing counties to set an impact fee on the booming industry -- and toughened some environmental and safety laws. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed the law Feb. 14.
The panel of seven judges includes five Republicans and two Democrats.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Young guns lead way into pivotal Pirates-Cardinals series
- With most starters resting, Steelers turn in lackluster loss at Heinz
- Liriano struggles as Brewers complete sweep of Pirates
- Indian SUV maker Mahindra to debut electric scooter in U.S.
- Teens held for trial in cobbler heist
- NexTier Bank buys Oakland’s Eureka to increase coverage in Western Pennsylvania
- Robust jobs report could force Federal Reserve to raise interest rates
- Five details you shouldn’t give Facebook
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- Kiski Area graduate Kuhn set to help YSU take on Pitt on Saturday