Court favors townships over state in Pa. lawsuit on zoning, shale drilling

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that the state cannot restrict local governments from using zoning laws to regulate oil and gas drilling. Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration plans to appeal the ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The ruling applied to the land-use portion of a law, called Act 13, outlining drilling regulations for the Marcellus shale. The court also invalidated a provision requiring uniformity of local ordinances governing resource development.

Corbett believes the land-use provision was constitutional, a spokesman for the governor said July 27, adding that lawmakers sought input from Pennsylvania’s local government associations.

But seven municipalities filed a lawsuit, saying the state law violated the rights of municipalities to use their land-use powers to determine where gas wells could be drilled within their communities.

The municipalities that filed the lawsuit were Cecil, Peters, Mount Pleasant, and Robinson in Washington County, South Fayette in Allegheny County, and two Bucks County towns.

John M. Smith, attorney for Cecil and Robinson, told reporters, “This doesn’t mandate that drilling isn’t going to happen within their borders. It just puts back the balance of what’s existed since the Marcellus [drilling] started.”

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania Judge Dan Pelligrini said Act 13 “violates substantive due process because it does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods, and makes irrational classifications.”

The court decision was split in a 4-3 ruling, with the three judges issuing a dissenting opinion in which Judge P. Kevin Brobson wrote the Pennsylvania law “strikes a balance both by providing for harvesting of those natural resources, wherever they are found,” and restricting oil and gas operations based on location and noise level.

Marcellus Shale Coalition Pres. Kathryn Z. Klaber said she believed state lawmakers are confronted with the need to provide certainty and predictability in drilling regulations.

“Lack of uniformity has long been an Achilles’ heel for Pennsylvania and must be resolved if the Commonwealth is to remain a leader in responsible American natural gas development and reap the associated economic, environmental and national security benefits,” Klaber said.

The Environmental Defense Fund issued a news release from its Austin office praising the court decision.

“We commend the court for recognizing that local governments have a constitutional responsibility to make sure oil and gas development is orderly and to ensure the rights of citizens to safe, healthy neighborhoods that aren’t steamrolled by unplanned growth,” said Scott Anderson, EDF’s senior policy advisor. “The Pennsylvania General Assembly clearly overstepped its bounds when it passed this law, and today the court got it right by saying so.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

BHI: US oil rig count rises for first time in 30 weeks

07/02/2015 A sudden 12-unit jump in oil-directed rigs during the abbreviated week ended July 2 represented their first rise since Dec. 5, 2014, and helped lif...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected