Groups Show Support for Communities Challenging State's Marcellus Shale Law
Several groups today, including one representing Wilkins Township,A filed briefs in support of the group of communities, medical doctor and nonprofit that have challenged Act 13.
A group of environmental and community planning organizations, as well as government entities, filed a series of Amicus Briefs with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today in support of communities’ rights to making zoning decisions about Marcellus Shale play within their borders.
Wilkins Township, just next to Forest Hills, is one of those communities.
The groups—including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, the Pittsburgh City Council, Mountain Watershed Association, and Earthjustice—filed in support of a Commonwealth Court decision that found portions of Act 13 unconstitutional.
The groups filing today join a broad spectrum of entities from throughout the state that have also filed so-called “friends of the court” briefs prior to the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments Oct. 17 about the state's appeal of the Commonwealth's decision.
In their brief, the Natural Resources Defense Council is representing the townships of Wilkins (Allegheny County), East Finley (Washington County) and Tinicum (Bucks County); the municipalities of Murrysville (Westmoreland County) and Monroeville (Allegheny County); the Borough of Bell Acres (Allegheny County); and the City of Bethlehem (Northampton and Lehigh Counties).
“The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association is concerned about the precedent that Act 13 would set for future zoning activities by limiting local municipal control. We believe that municipalities are best suited to handle local land use planning by utilizing comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances without State preemption," said Kyle Guie, state APA Legislative Committee chair. "In order to preserve a high quality of life for all Pennsylvania residents, it is critical that municipalities maintain their ability to plan land use in accordance with a municipality’s individual needs and constraints."
The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, representing 1,455 townships in the commonwealth, also filed a brief in support of the Commonwealth Court’s decision declaring portions of Act 13 as unconstitutional.
Also filing in support is the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs.
Represented by Earthjustice, 20 nonprofit environmental organizations and citizens groups also filed as amici in support of the Commonwealth Court ruling that struck down portions of Act 13 as unconstitutional.
Mountain Watershed Association, a nonprofit organization centered in the Indian Creek Watershed in Westmoreland and Fayette counties and Youghiogheny River in southwestern Pennsylvania, filed an Amicus Brief in support of the ruling, as well.
Those that challenged Act 13 include a cluster of communities—including Cecil and Peters townships—as well as a medical doctor and non-profit group.