Towns Might Challenge New Drilling Law

Towns Might Challenge New Drilling Law



Many of the local communities that enacted Marcellus Shale ordinances are now thinking of consolidating their forces in order to challenge the new natural gas drilling law of the state.

A couple of days after the contentious legislation was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett into law, leaders of local municipalities are complaining that it takes over their authority to administer zoning rules and provides them little control to regulate the industry in their towns.

As to which municipal dancing partners they will prefer and how the law will be challenged remains largely unknown. However, it is very clear that a lot of local leaders will do everything in their power to oppose the legislation. South Fayette in Allegheny County and Peters, Cecil, Robinson and South Strabane townships in Washington County have indicated that a legal challenge is looming.

Deron Gabriel, the Commissioner of South Fayette, said, “It seems like a lot of municipalities are realizing (the state is) trying to abdicate local control and years of zoning rules. It doesn’t make sense for everyone to start their own legal challenges when everyone is facing the same problems.”

On Wednesday night, his board voted to ask their township lawyer to work with its neighboring communities and evaluate what is the most effective type of legal challenge. South Fayette has passed one of the toughest zoning ordinances in the area which in effect, limits drilling in the township.

When asked for his comment on the 174-page law that attorneys are presently combing through, Gabriel said, “I think there are definite problems with the legislation, speaking as an attorney. Parts of the legislation are very vague and other parts are in conflict with each other.”