Area Municipalities Sue State to Overturn Zoning Gift to Gas Drillers

Homes burned by 1000 foot wall of fire from gas line explosion in San Bruno, CA

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.”

One thought on “Area Municipalities Sue State to Overturn Zoning Gift to Gas Drillers”

  1. Every community lost with this HB1950. It has been said that Pennsylvania has the best government that money can buy. The question is , Whose money! This clearly is a bill submitted by a single industry with deep pockets and a PR program that has been in existance for a long time and has dominated the conversation. All other corporations , businesses, and people are shut out by this new law(PL 13). They will give up property rights, civil rights, and their peace and health to the whims of the oil and gas industry. When I see all of the communities that will suffer, I question why only a few have to fight for the rights for all. The oath of office swears to obey and to defend the Pa & US Constitutions.The Violations are Art 1 sec 27, Art 1 sec 1, Art 3 sec32, the Pa municipal planning code, and the Supreme Courts decision ” Huntly vs Huntly.” The question is ” What are you going to do when you loose your water?” Be proactive not reactive. Speak up now!

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