Gorsline Zoning Case Argued Before PA Supreme Court Justices

Not long after the Pennsylvania legislature passed the Act 13 Marcellus Shale drilling law in 2012, signed into law by then-Gov. Tom Corbett, seven selfish towns sued, claiming they should have the right (via zoning laws) to determine just where an oil and gas well can be located within their borders. The challenge was brought by rabid anti-drillers and appealed all the way to the PA Supreme Court, where unfortunately the antis won (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). What the antis didn’t think about was the fact some towns may decide to exercise their newly-won rights–to allow wells, instead of prohibit them. Whoops. Guess they didn’t see that one coming. A town in Lycoming County decided to allow a shale well on property zoned residential/agricultural (i.e. farming country). Anti-drilling Big Green groups, including PennFuture, THE (arrogant) Delaware Riverkeeper, and the Peters Township gang (none of which are from mid-PA where the town is located) sued to deny the town the right to exercise its Act 13 authority to allow a shale well. A sham county judge granted a victory to the antis. But it was temporary. On appeal, the higher PA Commonwealth Court obliterated the faulty reasoning of the lower court and, significantly, redefined how courts should interpret the results of the Act 13 zoning lawsuit that allows local municipalities the right to restrict, or allow, shale drilling (see Major Victory for PA Landowners/Drillers in Lycoming County Case). The case, Brian Gorsline v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township (Gorsline is an avowed anti-driller), was appealed to the PA Supreme Court and yesterday in Philadelphia the Supremes heard oral arguments. Can we determine anything from the tone of the questions?…

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