Court day scheduled for Act 13 injunction

Posted April 5, 2012

Brad Hundt

Several communities hoping to overturn Act 13, Pennsylvania's oil and gas drilling law, will have their first day in court next week.

A hearing on whether to grant a preliminary injunction to prevent Act 13 from officially becoming law April 14 is set for next Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Harrisburg.

Cecil, Robinson, Mt. Pleasant and Peters townships in Washington County are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed last week in the state's Commonwealth Court.

"Our clients are extremely pleased that the court ruled so quickly and that a hearing will be held before Act 13's effective date," said John Smith, the solicitor for both Cecil and Robinson townships.

In a request for a preliminary injunction filed Tuesday, it was argued that municipalities will be forced to amend their own ordinances regarding oil and gas drilling if the law takes effect as scheduled, and the industry will use it to "strong-arm local elected officials to basically invalidate existing zoning regulations ..."

The suit argues Act 13 is unconstitutional because it strips municipalities of their zoning and land-use-planning rights, and that it favors one industry. Act 13 sets statewide standards for oil and gas drilling and has been applauded by industry officials, who say it gives them uniformity and predictability.

Other plaintiffs in the suit are South Fayette Township in Allegheny County, the Borough of Yardley and Nockamixon Township in Bucks County, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, an environmental organization, and Monroeville doctor Mehernosh Khan.

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