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Thursday, December 19, 2013

PA Supremes declare gas drilling's local zoning preemption unconstitutional

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has declared key provisions of the state's Act 13 of 2012 which eliminated local control over shale gas drilling unconstitutional

The Court's decision can be found here.

The decision is an important elucidation of the state Constitution's environmental rights amendment, contained in Article 1, section 27.  See pages 114-119 of the decision.
The court also found unconstitutional another section of Act 13 that allowed the Department of Environmental Protection to grant waivers for setback requirements from water sources, and sent the issue of the Act 13's "physician gag rule" back to a lower court.

The Court said many important things in this decision, among them:
By any reasonable account, 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
Somewhere, George Santayana is smiling.

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