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7 municipalities sue state over new drilling law’s zoning provisions, P.1

4/2/2012 | Real Estate Blog

Last Thursday, seven Pennsylvania municipalities filed suit against the state of Pennsylvania over the new natural gas law, which effectively removed the ability of city governments to regulate natural gas drilling. The lawsuit alleges that the state unconstitutionally removed the power of towns and landowners to control zoning to suit the need of the oil and gas industry.

Our regular readers know that we have previously mentioned this new law, which has become rather controversial. On the one hand, there are those who say it was necessary for economic growth in the state. On the other hand, there are those who are frustrated at having no control over drilling regulations. The latter group cites environmental and other concerns.

One of the provisions of the new law is that municipalities must permit drilling, waste pits and pipelines in every zoning district, including residential districts, provided certain buffers are in place.

Among the concerns cited in the lawsuit are public health, safety and welfare, as well as community development objectives, and concerns over property values.

The legislation itself, as we’ve noted before, was a response to increasing pressure from the drilling industry to begin tapping into the Marcellus Shale, a natural gas formation which is considered the largest known reservoir in the nation. New drilling technologies have made it possible to penetrate into the shale formation. Companies lobbying for more freedom to drill were eventually able to overturn what they saw as unreasonable restrictions.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this story.

Source:, “Towns sue Pa. over Marcellus Shale law,” Marc Levy, March 29, 2012.