Court throws out state zoning for Marcellus Shale drilling
HARRISBURG — A Commonwealth Court panel this morning threw out Pennsylvania’s attempt to establish statewide zoning for Marcellus Shale drilling, setting up a likely appeal to the state’s top court.
The appellate court ruled that the state cannot require local municipalities to allow gas drilling in areas that would conflict with their zoning rules, as several towns argued was the outcome of the Legislature passing and the governor signing Act 13 in February.
That law enacted a sweeping set of changes for how the oil and gas drilling industry operates within Pennsylvania, including creating an impact fee and, most controversially, dictating what municipalities can and cannot do regarding standards for gas drilling. Any municipality that did not follow those state-issued zoning guidelines stood to lose its share of the impact fee revenues and was liable to legal challenges.