New Twist in PA Act 13 Case: Motion to Re-Hear Oral Arguments

no cheatingA new twist in the ongoing court battle over Pennsylvania’s still relatively new Act 13 Marcellus Shale drilling law. A court case has been before the PA Supreme Court since last year challenging provisions in the new law to replace local zoning of oil and gas drilling with a uniform, statewide standard. As MDN told you a few weeks ago, it appears the newly sworn-in seventh justice on the PA Supreme Court will not participate in the decision, leaving a split 3-3 decision a likely outcome (see PA Problem: Act 13 Zoning Case to be Decided by 6 Supremes, Not 7). Split decisions are not good for anyone, and a split decision in this case would leave the lower court rulings stand, gutting part of the Act 13 law.

The new twist: On Tuesday, the PA state Public Utility Commission (PUC) and the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed a joint request that the entire seven-member court re-hear oral arguments in the case so the entire court can make a decision and finally lay this thing to rest, one way or the other. The towns that brought the lawsuit in the first place are objecting because they think they have a better chance at winning with a six-justice panel–a split decision means they win. Are the towns trying to cheat justice?…

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