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<span style="font-weight: bold"> <span style="font-size: 17pt"> Towns sue Pa. over Marcellus Shale law
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<span style="font-weight: bold">MARC LEVY </span>
The Associated Press


HARRISBURG, Pa. - A group including seven municipalities Thursday sued the state of Pennsylvania over its new law regulating the rapid growth of natural gas exploration, saying among other things that it unconstitutionally takes away the power to control property from towns and landowners for the benefit of the oil and gas industry.

The approximately 120-page lawsuit was filed in state Commonwealth Court. Plaintiffs include townships in southwestern Pennsylvania , Robinson, Peters, Cecil and Mount Pleasant in Washington County, and South Fayette in Allegheny County , where exploration of the Marcellus Shale is under way, and Nockamixon Township and Yardley Borough in southeastern Pennsylvania's Bucks County where officials are worried about their inability to control future exploration of different natural gas formations.

Among the objectionable provisions cited by the lawsuit are requirements that drilling, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in every zoning district, including residential districts, as long as certain buffers are observed.

"As municipalities can expect hundreds of wells, numerous impoundments, miles of pipelines, several compressor and processing plants, all within (their) borders, they will be left to plan around rather than plan for orderly growth," the lawsuit said.

The industry began descending on Pennsylvania in 2008 in earnest to tap into the Marcellus Shale, a natural gas formation deep underground that is considered the nation's largest-known reservoir.

But company officials found what they viewed as a gray area surrounding the extent of municipal authority over the operation and location of oil and gas wells, and some complained that municipalities had tried to use zoning rules to unreasonably limit drilling.

In addition to allowing counties to impose a drilling fee on their local gas wells, the sweeping, six-week-old law grants the industry the predictable rules it had sought, the lawsuit said.

"However, it did so at the expense of the predictability afforded to ... the citizens of Pennsylvania whose health, safety and welfare, community development objectives, zoning districts and concerns regarding property values were pushed aside to elevate the interests of out-of-state oil and gas companies and the owners of hydrocarbons underlying each property, who are frequently not the surface owners," the lawsuit said.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, took office in 2011 and backed the industry's objectives, believing that a 1984 state law had intended to outlaw municipal regulation of oil and gas operations anyway.

Several land-use lawyers have said the new law seemed unprecedented for its detail in limiting what a municipality can require when it comes to exploration of the Marcellus Shale. However, none said they viewed it as an unconstitutional encroachment into municipal zoning.

The final law was negotiated in private by Corbett's fellow Republicans who control the state Legislature. Only seven Democrats voted for it, while 13 Republicans voted against it.

A spokesman for Corbett, Eric Shirk, said Thursday the governor's office hadn't yet seen the lawsuit. But he pointed out that negotiators worked closely with associations that represent local governments, including the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, and said the administration is confident the law will withstand judicial scrutiny.

When he signed the bill, Corbett said it provides "increased uniformity and fairness of local regulations while preserving local government's traditional zoning authority."

Jackie Root, president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners, which advocates for those who want to lease their below-ground gas rights, has said she believes the law was a fair compromise.

The plaintiffs want an injunction stopping the law from taking effect and, ultimately, for it to be struck down.

The local zoning provisions take effect in mid-April and give municipalities 120 days to comply. Scores of them must figure out if their ordinances are legal and, if not, get rid of them or prepare to potentially defend them in court. About 125 municipalities had at least one oil and gas ordinance in effect, according to the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group.

The lawsuit also says the law violates separate of powers doctrine, is unconstitutionally vague in portions that regulate municipal zoning, and violates various procedural rules on legislation laid down by the state constitution.
 

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I agree John!

If it is a impact fee, why is money being sent to areas that arn't being impacted?

Why should the state limit what local townships/municipalities can zone for/against??
 

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buzz said:
I agree John!

If it is a impact fee, why is money being sent to areas that arn't being impacted?

Why should the state limit what local townships/municipalities can zone for/against??
Isn't it against State law for townships/municipalities to zone prohibitions on hunting?
 

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Some townships/municipalities have tried to prohibit hunting in certain zoned districts. I believe they have all been struck down when challenged, because the State licenses hunting.
 

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OK, now I see what your saying.

Let me clarify what I was refering to. When you zone, you have to leave a spot for every business withen your TWP. You can not totaly exclude a business, but you can choose the ares that are suited for the type of business. The most obvious and frequent used..."you wouldn;t want a strip club next to a school"...type of thing.

I don't think it right for the state to tell a Twp that it can't zone any area to prohibit a gas well. I am pro gas, but I don't see where we need a gas well in the middle of town, in a residential nieghborhood. Especialy with horizontal drilling.
By the way, I live in the country....so that stance is not being hypicrytical.
 

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The "State" is all powerful and all knowing. We shouldn't challenge such a benevolent entity. LOL
 

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I don't think the State is benevolent and all knowing, but in a lot of instances, if State law did not hold precedence over local/municipal laws, there would be a patchwork of differing laws in different jurisdictions that would play havoc with anyone who tried to stay law abiding. Take gun laws for instance.
 

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It is in the state Constitution that the state must sucure and provide safe clean drinking water to its citizens.....this law flys in the face of that. I dont think it's in any land owners interest that the state (ie- Industry) controls local zoning laws with drilling. If a community decides it doesnt want drilling, its their God given right to stop it within their borders......men and women die for these rights!!!!!
 

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What if someone owns land in an area that the local township has decided that it will not allow "drilling"? What if the "drilling" is actually performed on a pad a mile away? What if the "drilling" is occurring 8000 feet below the zoned area?

What of the rights of the landowner under this scenario?
 

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The legislature is starting from the premise that oil and gas well drilling affects water supplies. It does not. Oh, accidents can happen but they are few and far between. If the legislature wants to "help" their constituents they should require testing and standards for all water wells in the commonwealth. Then, one would truly know how "good" their water really is. If I had a water well, it would be tested annually if I was concerned for my families well being.
 

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The court ordered a 5 page decision tonight ordering a 120 day stay on Act 13 which was to take effect on April 14th.

I have the .pdf if someone knows how to convert it to an image for posting.
 

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GalThatFishes said:
The court ordered a 5 page decision tonight ordering a 120 day stay on Act 13 which was to take effect on April 14th.

I have the .pdf if someone knows how to convert it to an image for posting.
Just do print screen for each page and paste each page in Microsoft Paint and save It as an image file.
 

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The first two pages were cover pages

 

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A judge on Wednesday ordered a temporary halt to the sections of Pennsylvania's new Marcellus Shale law that put limits on the power of municipalities to regulate the booming natural gas exploration industry, a victory for the seven municipalities that sued.

However, the Commonwealth Court senior judge, Keith <span style="font-weight: bold">Quigley, suggested that the towns' wider challenge to the constitutionality of the local zoning limitations is questionable, saying in a two-page order that he's not convinced that "the likelihood of success is on the merits is high."</span>
Still, Quigley said <span style="text-decoration: underline">municipalities must have an adequate opportunity to pass zoning rules </span>that comply with the eight-week-old law without the fear or risk that the development of oil or gas operations in the meantime will be inconsistent with them.

...................................................................
Judge delays parts of Pennsylvania shale law - mcall.com
16 hours ago ... A state judge is ordering a temporary halt to portions of Pennsylvania's new
Marcellus Shale law that limit the power ... However, the Commonwealth Court
senior judge, Keith Quigley, suggested that the towns' wider challenge ... Yeager
said the next step in the fight over Act 13 will take place next week as ...

www.mcall.com/.../pennsylvania/mc-judge-delays-pa-shale-law-20120411,0,49190.story - Similar
 

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If someone can fix that link for me I would appreciate it. The rest of the article gives response from both sides.

The reason for the hold makes sense, it does take a few months to get zoning changed. Also,with this law, any zoning laws pertaining to NG should to go to the PUC for review. The PUC will determine if the zoning law is legal. The whole process could take 3 to 6 month's.
 
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