Environmental groups support Pa. towns' fracking challenge

Michael P. Tremoglie Sep. 19, 2012, 10:10am

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Twenty environmental groups filed an amicus brief Tuesday in favor of Pennsylvania towns challenging a state law.

The case involves a lawsuit by seven Pennsylvania municipalities challenging the constitutionality of a state law that sought to override local zoning laws related to hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

Act 13, according to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, "enacted stronger environmental standards, authorized local governments to adopt an impact fee and built upon the state's ongoing efforts to move towards energy independence as unconventional gas development continues.

"Among the Act's provisions are increased setback requirements for unconventional gas development; enhanced protection of water supplies; and strong, uniform, consistent statewide environmental standards. As a result of these provisions, the Department of Environmental Protection will continue to ensure the responsible development of this important resource."

Portions of Act 13 were overturned in July by a state court. This may be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

"Stripping away the rights of local communities to protect themselves from fracking isn't just bad for the environment, it's bad for democracy," the groups said in a statement.

"The law is clear: local officials have the right to decide what industrial activities are appropriate within their communities. These local decision-makers know what's best for their towns. Not powerful oil and gas companies, nor their bought-and-paid-for state politicians."

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