Commonwealth Court Weakens Another Aspect of 2012 Drilling Regulations Law

July 18, 2014

A Pennsylvania court ruled Thursday against a section of the state’s law concerning regulations on the gas drilling industry which allowed the Public Utility Commission to hold back drilling fees from communities they felt were illegally restricting drilling activity.

Commonwealth Court ruled that the PUC cannot review how local zoning decisions affect the gas drilling industry.

The decision follows a state Supreme Court ruling in December which stated that the law could not trump local zoning authority over drilling activity.

A spokesman for the Corbett administration, which has backed the drilling industry, said only that the ruling would be studied regarding its impact “on the intended role of the utility commission.”

Commonwealth Court rejected three other challenges to the drilling law, leaving the limits on what doctors may reveal about the contents of fracking solutions, upholding certain conditions of eminent domain for the transportation, sale or storage of natural gas, and allowing the exclusion of private water users from a requirement concerning those who must be notified of potential contamination due to drilling.

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