Pennsylvania

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Court Bars Public Utility Commission From Reviewing Drilling Ordinances

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The Pennsylvania Judicial Center, home of Commonwealth Court

A Commonwealth Court order issued this morning bars Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission from reviewing local governments’ natural gas drilling ordinances.

This summer, the court struck down language in Pennsylvania’s new oil and gas law, Act 13, restricting local governments’ ability to zone and regulate natural gas drilling. But when the Corbett Administration appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, the PUC decided to forge ahead with its assessments of whether or not local ordinances complied with the guidelines laid out by the new state law. As a result, the PUC is withholding fee revenue from three townships whose drilling regulations exceed the state standards. (The challenge filed against a fourth township, Mount Pleasant, has since been withdrawn.)

Today, Senior Judge Keith Quigley ordered the Public Utility Commission to “cease and desist” its reviews. What does that mean for Cecil, Robinson and South Fayette Townships? At the moment, the answer is unclear. PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher writes that “the order, its implications and any further actions are currently under review.”

Read the full order below:

 

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