By Russell L. Schetroma and Nathaniel I. Holland
On Friday, July 27, the Commonwealth appealed the July 26, 2012 4/3 decision of the Commonwealth Court that struck down the provisions of Act 13 of 2012 that attempted to assure statewide uniformity in local land use regulation of oil and gas development. Governor Corbett's statement announcing the appeal stated, in part:
"The provisions struck down by the Commonwealth Court are critically important for job creators who are employing more than 240,000 Pennsylvanians, for landowners seeking to exercise their property rights, and for local governments looking for guidance on how they may reasonably regulate oil and gas operations. The provisions are also integral to the enhanced environmental standards and impact fee revenue portions of the act. Indeed, there would be no act without each of these crucial pieces...this decision endangers the jobs of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians and deprives citizens of their property rights."
Governor Corbett expressed confidence in the eventual success of the appeal:
"It is the General Assembly and Governor's prerogative to establish policy; it is the court's job to pass judgment on the constitutionality of this policy, not its merits. Act 13 clearly meets the constitutionality test, and I am confident the Supreme Court will adhere to its responsibility in a prompt and timely manner."
Governor Corbett also reminded readers of his statement that both the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors (representing 1,455 municipalities) favored the passage of Act 13 as written.
The next step will be to learn if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal. That decision could be made in short order or could take several months.
Russell L. Schetroma focuses his practice in the areas of energy and oil and gas law. Nathaniel I. Holland focuses his practice in the area of energy transactional law.
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