20 December 2013, News Wires – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday expanded municipalities’ right to restrict hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale after it overturned parts of a 2012 state oil and gas law, according to a report.
The court ruled that several provisions in Act 13, a legislation that in part prohibited local regulation of oil and gas operation, “violate the (state’s) duties as trustee of Pennsylvania’s public natural resources”, Reuters reported.
Seven municipalities and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network had challenged the act in 2012, alleging it violates Pennsylvania’s constitution.
Environmental groups say fracking can contaminate water supplies.
“The law is crystal clear: local officials have the right to decide what industrial activities are appropriate within their communities,” said Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney at Earthjustice who submitted an amicus brief in support of the municipalities’ claim.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who signed the act into law in 2012, expressed his disappointment with the decision.
“We must not allow today’s ruling to send a negative message to job creators and families who depend on the energy industry,” he said in a statement.
The Pennsylvania decision comes at the heels of rulings from New York courts earlier this year that allowed two small towns – Dryden and Middlefield – to limit natural gas drilling within their city limits.
Three cities in Colorado also voted against fracking in November elections.
The Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia may have produced more than 13 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas in December, according to recent estimates from the US Energy Information Administration.