Fracking, Legislation and the Court

Fracking, Legislation and the Court by Barry Rabe, August 6, 2012, Brookings
But the Pennsylvania legislature and Governor Tom Corbett went off the deep end earlier this year by enacting Act 13, a sweeping statute covering many aspects of fracking governance. Among the most significant provisions was a remarkably detailed and complex set of measures designed to strip local governments of basic land-use controls long protected under Pennsylvania’s planning code that emphasizes local authority. These new provisions include tight constraints on how localities may address such issues as restricting vehicle access routes, well site operation hours, conditions for site screening and fencing, or limiting structural height or noise from facility operations. Every aspect of this legislation was designed to establish uniform land-use approaches to fracking operations, even in densely-populated areas. It severely constrains local governments and private land-holders from making independent judgments. … The Commonwealth Court’s majority opinion concluded that Act 13 “violates substantive due process because it does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications.” Invariably, the state will appeal and the battle will continue in Harrisburg and elsewhere.

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