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Fracking issues addressed in Pennsylvania Supreme Court case

1/29/2014 | Real Estate Blog

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court appeared split on the right of our state to restrict the use of fracking.  The case concerned in part Act 13 of the amended Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act.  It also commented upon Section 27 of the Declaration of Rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution which provides our state’s citizens the right to preservation of our environment (among other things).

The court discussed how Act 13 could threaten the degradation of air and water.  It could also affect the esthetic value of the environment and have an adverse impact upon the health of our citizens as well.  Finally, it could diminish the owners’ enjoyment of their property.

The court continued on with its concerns about the environmental rights of its residents. It discussed the devastation to the state’s natural habitat due to use of logging that had occurred in the past. It referred to this as “shortsighted exploitation of its bounteous environment.”

Under Act 13, local governments would be required to authorize items like natural gas compressor stations and provide permitted use of oil and gas operations in agricultural and industrial districts. The court thus found at least certain portions of this act to be invalid because Act 13 launched a statutory scheme that purportedly would have encouraged gas development without restrictions.

Land owners that seek approvals for certain projects on their property would be well advised to first speak to a capable land use and zoning attorney before proceeding with any project. As the above matter would demonstrate, not all projects will be permitted due to environmental issuesand other concerns.  It’s best to understand legislative and legal obstacles one will face prior to investing in such projects.

Source: Phoenix Village News, “Fracking and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” Clifford A. Rieders, Jan. 13, 2014