OT: PA Court Tells PUC TO Cease and Desist Actions on Act 13
October 26, 2012 | 1:47 PM
By Scott Detrow
A Commonwealth Court order issued this morning bars Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission from reviewing local governments’ natural gas drilling ordinances.
This summer, the court struck down language in Pennsylvania’s new oil and gas law, Act 13, restricting local governments’ ability to zone and regulate natural gas drilling. But when the Corbett Administration appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, the PUC decided to forge ahead with its assessments of whether or not local ordinances complied with the guidelines laid out by the new state law. As a result, the PUC is withholding fee revenue from three townships whose drilling regulations exceed the state standards. (The challenge filed against a fourth township, Mount Pleasant, has since been withdrawn.)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ordered the state utility regulator Friday to stop reviewing local fracking ordinances challenged by residents on grounds they conflicted with a new law establishing oil and gas drilling rules, ruling that the reviews violated the terms of a standing injunction.
In a one-page order, Judge Keith Quigley told the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission it did not have the authority to review local oil- and gas-drilling ordinances under the terms of an injunction left in place when the court in July declared portions of the Act invalid.