Act 13 Struck Down

The state Supreme Court this afternoon declared Act 13 unconstitutional.  This law was passed for the Marcellus shale gas industry to bypass local zoning regulations and force every community to permit gas drilling.  The Court held that it violated the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania constitution.  Chief Justice Castille was joined in the majority opinion by Justices Todd, McCaffery and Baer.  My friend Jordan Yeager was the attorney who argued the case before the Court.  A press release says the following:

“The Court has vindicated the public’s right to a clean environment and our right to fight for it when it is being trampled on. Today the environment and the people of Pennsylvania have won and special interests and their advocates in Harrisburg have lost. This proves the Constitution still rules, despite the greedy pursuits of the gas and oil industry. With this huge win we will move ahead to further undo the industry’s grip of our state government,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.

“This is a great historic victory for local democracy, for public health, and for the health of our environment. The shale gas industry overreached, greedily wanting to operate without respecting local concerns and without playing by the same set of rules everyone else has to play by. The Corbett Administration and the General Assembly went along with it and tried to give away our rights to the gas industry. The Supreme Court has made it clear that what they were trying to do violates our state Constitution. It’s a great day for the Constitution and the people of the Commonwealth”, said Jordan Yeager, counsel for the plaintiffs.

“The gas industry tried to take over every inch of every municipality in Pennsylvania for drilling, regardless of the zoning rights of local governments and the residents they represent. The industry and their backers in Harrisburg overreached when they thought they could literally takeover the state, turning it into one big drilling and gas infrastructure site. We fought this law because it was illegal and because it spelled ruin for public health and the environment, even though we, as plaintiffs, didn’t have nearly the resources our powerful and well-funded opponents had. This proves, when you have the law and environmental rights on your side, it’s worth fighting and you can win,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Commonwealth Court Overturns Parts of Act 13

Commonwealth Court struck down parts of Act 13 usurping local control of zoning and ordinances affecting the fracking industry.  Gas drillers who have seized control of many lawmakers and Gov. Gasbag passed a law which taxes them at a miniscule rate and seized state control over local municipalities.  Many of them banded together and sued.  Yesterday they won.  Local governments cannot be forced out of the decision making process over energy companies coming into their neighborhoods, erecting drill pads, stealing water and tearing up their roads.

This is the first law passed by the Republican controlled state government to be decided in court.  Many of them either are or will be challenged in courts but the Act 13 decision is the first.  Remember, your tax dollars are being expended litigating all this stuff.  The VoterID bill is currently in hearings before Commonwealth Court and will likely be either struck down or frozen.  The Governor told the court this week that no reasonable basis exists to justify disenfranchising 758,000 voters.  The chances of that law standing are next to none in light of that revelation.

The Governor can say anything he wants at bill signings and public events but lying to a court is something quite different.  I hope you’re happy using precious state resources wastefully defending bad laws.  I remember a time when conservatives actually believed in fiscal responsibility.  This is all irresponsible when 14,000 teachers are fired, mentally disabled Pennsylvanians are going without services and Corbett is throwing 70,000 people off welfare.  140,000 have been thrown out of medical care.  These are very twisted priorities.