Corbett Administration appealing court’s rejection of controversial Act 13 provisions
9/30/2012 | Real Estate Blog
On Thursday, the Philadelphia City Council approved a resolution opposing Philadelphia’s natural-gas drilling law, which was passed earlier this year. That law, as our readers know, superseded local zoning controls. The resolution, which has been endorsed by anti-drilling activists, supports a recent decision by the Commonwealth Court that overturned the section of the law which restricts municipalities’ ability to zone for oil and gas drilling.
The Corbett Administration is currently appealing the ruling, which was a blow to his administration, which passed the law-known as Act 13-in an effort to attract the gas drilling to Pennsylvania. As our readers may recall, Act 13’s goal was to collect impact fees from drilling companies seeking to gain access to natural gas supplies in the Marcellus Shale region.
Pennsylvania, prior to the law’s passage, was the only major gas-producing state that did not tax natural-gas production. It was projected that the impact fees would bring in $175 million in 2012. The law also governed the drilling, storage and transporting of oil and natural gas throughout Pennsylvania.
The most contentious provision was that which required municipalities to permit drilling in all zoning districts, and to amend their zoning laws within 120 days to abide by the law or lose impact fees. That provision, along with one that allowed the state to waive setback requirements for wells, was rejected by the Commonwealth Court. In total, eight of the twelve issues listed in the petition were rejected.
Concerns over the environmental consequences of drilling and local control of zoning are the most important of the objections to the law.
We will keep our readers updated with the Corbett administration’s appeal of the ruling, and any further developments on this issue.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Philadelphia Council unanimous in opposing state’s gas-drilling law,” September 28, 2012