Ongoing Fallout from PA Supreme Court’s Wrong Act 13 Decision

bozo mushroom cloudOne month ago Pennsylvania got the sad news that the state Supreme Court struck down important (and large) sections of the 2012 Act 13 Marcellus Shale drilling law (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). The disappointing aspect of the decision is that Chief Justice Ron Castille, a Republican, joined three Democrats on the bench in deciding to use, for the first time, PA’s Environmental Rights Amendment to create new rights that didn’t exist before (drunk on their own power?). In fact the basis on which Castille made his poor judgment was based on his admitted prejudiced view that drilling and fracking is inherently harmful to the environment–which of course is not the case (see Industry Vet Points Out Error in PA Supreme Court Act 13 Ruling).

One of the biggest problems with the PA Supreme Court decision is that the four justices agreeing to strike down zoning (and other) provisions in Act 13 could not agree on their reasons for doing so, weakening the decision’s usefulness in future cases. They also sent portions of the original case back to a lower court that, if those decisions go the wrong way, will totally wipe out the Act 13 law, sending PA back to the drilling stone ages again, without important environmental protections provided for under the law. Last week Penn State University law professor Ross Pifer analyzed the high court’s poor decision on a webinar call…

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