On July 30, 2013, the newest member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Correale Stevens, was sworn onto the bench. In light of the new addition to the Court, attorneys for the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission and Department of Environmental Protection submitted petitions for oral arguments in the case challenging Act 13 of 2012 to be reheard. The Commonwealth Court determined some of Act 13 to be unconstitutional in 2012. Robinson Twp. v. Com., 2012 WL 3030277 (Pa. Commw. Ct. July 26, 2012). In particular, the statutory requirement that municipal zoning ordinances be amended to include oil and gas operations in all zoning districts was in violation of substantive due process, and the statutory well location restrictions were unconstitutional because the restrictions failed to provide sufficient guidance to the DEP as to when to grant a waiver from setback requirements.
Oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court were delivered by both Robinson Township and the Commonwealth in October. The Court has not decided what action it will take in the case.
For more information on the Act 13 proceedings, visit the Marcellus Shale Resource Area of the Agricultural Law Center.
Written by: Garrett Lent, Research Assistant
Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center