Gas Industry Takeover thrown out by State’s Highest Court
From: Southeastern Pennsylvania Frac Action Coalition (FAC) Thursday, December 19, 2013
The PA Supreme Court has ruled Act 13 is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. Notably, the Court stated, “As the citizens illustrate, development of the natural gas industry in the Commonwealth unquestionably has and will have a lasting , and undeniably detrimental, impact on the quality of these core aspects (life, health, and liberty: surface and ground water, ambient air, etc.) of Pennsylvania’s environment, which are part of the public trust.” Opinion at 117.
Additionally, the Court stated, “By any responsible account, the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction” Opinion at 118.
The Decision and concurring opinion can be found at:
In ruling so, the Court struck down the shale gas industry’s effort to force every municipality in the state to allow gas drilling and related industrial operations in every zoning district. The Court’s decision upholds the ability of local governments to protect their local communities and natural resources through zoning. Chief Justice Castille authored the historic majority opinion. Justices Todd, McCaffrey and Baer joined in the result. Justices Castille, Todd, and McCaffrey held that the provisions violate Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution – the Environmental Rights Amendment. Justice Baer concurred in finding Act 13 unconstitutional, agreeing with the Commonwealth Court’s reasoning.
Justice Baer stated that the provisions “force municipalities to enact zoning ordinances, which violate the substantive due process rights of their citizenries.”