This is a follow-up to an earlier blog post on the PA Supreme Court Act 13 decision
On Friday, February 21, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced that it would not reconsider its December, 2013 decision striking down as unconstitutional broad portions of the 2012 law amending Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Act (Act 13).
Following the Court’s December ruling, Governor Corbett’s administration took the unusual step of requesting the Court to reconsider its decision. The administration contended the Court improperly applied factual findings to determine the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’). The administration further argued that the Court’s finding stripped Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (‘DEP’) of its flexibility to impose conditions on permits for drilling near waterways, thus hindering the agency’s ability to protect important resources.
The Corbett Administration expressed its disappointment in the Court’s rejection of their request, while landowners, municipalities and environmental groups applauded the Court’s action as re-empowering municipalities to protect their residents and natural resources.
However, concerns continue as to whether the Court’s actions will have a chilling effect on future oil and gas exploration operations in the Commonwealth.