Judge keeps gas industry, Republicans out of Marcellus lawsuit
HARRISBURG — A Commonwealth Court judge has denied a request by the gas-drilling industry and top Republican legislators to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s new Marcellus Shale law.
Senior Judge Keith B. Quigley wrote in a decision today that the legislators do not have a “legally enforceable interest” in defending the intent behind their law. He wrote that the interests of the industry will be represented by the state as it defends the constitutionality of the law.
The judge turned down requests to participate in the case by Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Sam Smith, as well as those by a collection of industry trade associations and companies.
Officials from seven municipalities, along with a Monroeville doctor and members of the Delaware Riverkeepers Network, have filed a suit arguing the the law constrains their ability to protect residents by how they craft zoning rules. Last week, Judge Quigley granted a 120-stay to the portion of the law affecting local zoning rules.
The remainder of the law went into effect on Saturday.
Earlier this week, attorneys for the legislators and the industry groups argued in court that they should be able to participate in the case.