Chester County, PA Town Floats Illegal Pipeline Ordinance

Uwchlan Township in Chester County (near Philadelphia) has put itself on a path to get sued. The town is in the process of proposing and adopting new zoning ordinances that govern how pipelines can get built within town boundaries. The problem, of course, is that they don’t have that right. Federal pipeline projects are governed by federal law and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. State pipeline projects are governed by the state’s Public Utility Commission. Local yahoos can’t just take it on themselves to overturn federal and state law. Sorry boys and girls, it doesn’t work that way. You’ll need to suppress your inner anarchist. Some of the things the town wants sounds pretty tame: install secure fencing at the site, have an evacuation plan ready. But some things are certain litigation waiting to happen: pipeline operators must compensate the town for “any loss of tax revenue that results from a decline in real estate values” caused by construction the pipeline. And how, prey tell, will the town calculate that? Home values go up and down with the wind–year in and year out. Many factors beyond a pipeline affect property values. This is real hubris on the part of Uwchlan…

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