Judge to Rule on Apex Energy Well Drilling in Westmoreland County

As we have said for years, ever since the Pennsylvania legislature modernized and updated drilling regulations to account for shale drilling in 2012, known as Act 13, anti-fossil fuel nutters have attempted first to destroy Act 13, and later subvert it. Act 13 originally provided for uniform zoning across the state with respect to siting wells. But seven selfish townships sued and eventually won (at the PA Supreme Court) the right to retain their own zoning regulations with respect to oil and gas wells (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Each town must have at least one zone where oil/gas wells are allowed. However, towns also have the right, via special exemptions, to allow wells in zones that don’t specifically allow wells, or where wells are otherwise prohibited. Exemptions happen on a case-by-case basis, and the town zoning or planning board must approve them. Antis object. They like it when drillers are banned from a zone, pointing to Act 13, saying the town has that right. But when the town then exercises their right to allow a well, also in Act 13, antis object and sue to prevent it. The door only swings one way for antis–to block shale wells. Such is it in Westmoreland County, in Penn Township, where the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board approved a special exemption for Apex Energy to drill shale wells permitted by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection. Antis sued saying the Board erred in their decision, and now a judge will decide the fate of the legally-permitted wells…

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