Who's Filing Local Zoning Challenges Against Southwestern Towns?
Pennsylvania’s new Marcellus Shale law, Act 13, imposes restrictions on municipalities’ ability to zone and regulate drilling.
It did, that is, before Commonwealth Court deemed the provision unconstitutional. Local zoning restrictions are at the heart of a lawsuit the state Supreme Court will hear arguments on next month.
Until the court issues a ruling, however, the Public Utility Commission is accepting challenges to local restrictions. The Post-Gazette has tracked down the people who filed challenges against five southwestern communities, and found they all hold lease agreements with natural gas drillers:
In recent weeks, four of the five local municipalities engaged in a lawsuit against the PUC and other state agencies challenging Act 13 — the state’s sweeping new law governing Marcellus Shale operations and fees — have been under fire by local residents for their drilling ordinances.
The Post-Gazette obtained documents showing that each of those residents who challenged their local ordinances also holds a lease with prominent local drilling company Range Resources.
…Local officials say it’s no coincidence their municipalities are the ones being targeted by residents with leases. Each municipality except Peters has been challenged by a local resident.