Statement on Commonwealth Court’s Act 13 Decision Erika Staaf, PennEnvironment Clean Water Advocate

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

“PennEnvironment applauds today’s decision by a Commonwealth Court panel that overturned some of the most egregious sections of Act 13, Pennsylvania’s recent—and controversial—gas drilling law.

“In an age where powerful interests such as the oil and gas industry dominate the political process in Harrisburg and alienate the general public, this court decision comes as a welcome victory.

“Moreover, today’s decision reaffirmed what Pennsylvanians from every corner of the state already know—that when it comes to dangerous gas drilling, local communities must have the ability to make thoughtful decisions to protect our citizens, our environment and our quality of life. 

“The urgency for this much-needed decision was made glaringly obvious by the Legislature’s recent actions related to the Newark Basin in southeastern Pennsylvania—that while it was acceptable to strip away the protections and rights for the majority of Pennsylvania communities, our politicians were more than willing to stand up for a portion of other residents of the Commonwealth in a select number of counties. 

“No Pennsylvanian should be treated as a second class citizen, especially when it comes to dangerous gas drilling.

“While likely only in its infancy stage, shale gas drilling has left environmental damage and destruction in its wake: from water and air pollution; to exposure to toxic chemicals; to well blowouts and explosions; we’ve seen in no uncertain terms this intensive and shortsighted industrial activity should not be forced on our residential communities.

“The local zoning preemption provisions that were struck down today tied the hands of local communities, and we are heartened to see that the Court recognized this massive overreach by the Pennsylvania legislature is indeed unconstitutional.”