Date ArticleType
9/7/2012 General News and Information
PA Chamber, business groups urge court to uphold statewide Marcellus Shale zoning regulations

HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry joined with several business groups and statewide local chambers of commerce in urging the court to uphold statewide Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling zoning regulations contained in Act 13 of 2012.

On Thursday, July 26, Commonwealth Court rejected a portion of the state’s Marcellus Shale oversight law that would have established statewide zoning for drilling activities. The court ruled that the state cannot force municipalities to allow drilling that is in conflict with local ordinances. The ruling also overturned a provision in Act 13 that allowed the state to waive gas well setback requirements. The PA Chamber supports state oversight in order to prevent a patchwork of regulations that vary from municipality to municipality, making it difficult for the industry to efficiently and effectively operate.

In an amicus brief filed Tuesday, Sept. 4 in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the PA Chamber, along with the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association; National Federal of Independent Business; Pennsylvania Business Council and the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, argued that Commonwealth Court’s decision erroneously empowers municipalities to sue on behalf of select groups of residents and in sense has created a form of associational, not representational, standing for municipalities not previously recognized by the courts whereby municipalities can advance constitutional claims on behalf of property owners. The brief asks the Supreme Court to reaffirm that municipalities cannot assert the personal rights of select residents against the Commonwealth.

The brief also argues that Commonwealth Court’s decision unnecessarily and improperly creates new constitutionally protected rights.

PA Chamber President Gene Barr said the lower court ruling has broad implications beyond regulation of Marcellus Shale activity.

“However, the end result of Commonwealth Court’s split ruling with regard to natural gas drilling is that it threw out a commonsense law that would allow for development in an efficient manner,” Barr said. “Portions of Act 13 achieved a proper balance between state and local government in the regulation of the Commonwealth’s natural resources.

“Uniformity of local regulation is a central and necessary component of this balancing act and is central as well to a natural gas drilling oversight law that protects human health and the environment while allowing the tremendous economic potential of the Marcellus Shale to be fully realized.”

Barr said the business community, which includes numerous statewide local chambers of commerce, including the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, understands that a hodge-podge of local ordinances will make it extremely difficult for drillers operating in multiple jurisdictions to be in compliance and effectively and efficiently operate.

“We urge the Supreme Court to consider the sound legal arguments contained in the amicus brief and reverse Commonwealth Court’s decision,” Barr said. “As a carefully and thoughtfully crafted oversight law, Act 13 protects personal property rights and puts in place responsible regulation that effectively balances economic growth within the industry with protection of human health and the environment.”

For more information, contact
Lesley Smith, director of communications
PA Chamber of Business and Industry
717 720-5446 or 717 645-2073

© Copyright 2011 Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce. All rights reserved.

850 Beaver Grade Road | Moon Township, PA USA 15108 | (412) 264-6270 | Fax (412) 264-1575