by Randy Shannon
March 30, 2012
Led by Robinson Township, numerous municipalities, officials, and individuals have filed suit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania for a Declaratory Judgment against Act 13 of 2012.
Passed with overwhelming Republican support and signed by Governor Corbett, the law was written by the gas drilling industry. The premise of the law is that the right of corporations to fully exploit all of the gas deposit in the Marcellus shale takes precedent over the lives, property, communities, and other business interests in Pennsylvania.
The law establishes a uniform zoning scheme solely for gas operations for all of the state regardless of the current land use as farm, business or residential. The scheme allows drillers to establish wells, holding ponds, pipes, pumping stations , and compressors with no regard for longstanding use. There is no minimum limit for siting these installations around homes. All local zoning ordinances are shredded and rendered null by the Republican law.
In addition the law establishes a gag rule on doctors who treat patients sickened by exposure to industry chemicals. The purpose of the gag rule is to prevent the dissemination and collection of gas industry health effects on the population, which could be used to protect the public health. This Republican outrage has been widely condemned by the Pennsylvania medical profession.
The text of the lawsuit can be found here and is well worth reading to understand the bold and radical scope of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania’s assault on the citizens of the state. The suit clearly explains the status of zoning rights and uses in Pennsylvania, how Act 13 violates them, and the dangers that citizens face from unfettered gas drilling.
Here is an excerpt from the suit:
“Petitioners seek a declaration that through Act 13 the Pennsylvania General Assembly has engaged in unconstitutional statewide zoning, by way of an improper use of its police powers and by enacting zoning regulations without consideration of zoning districts, comprehensive plans or how the zoning enactments would serve to protect the health, safety, morals or welfare of local communities in violation of Article I, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and Section 1 of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.”