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State Agency Believes New Natural Gas Court Ruling Is Too Vague

The Public Utility Commission says a state court needs to be clearer about its decision to delay implimintation of parts of Pennsylvania's new Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling law.

Earlier this month, Commonwealth Court ordered an injunction on the portions of Act 13 that restrict local drilling rules.

PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said the agency was left wondering how to continue its job of overseeing and implementing the law.

"We were looking at some of the direction we were given by the court," Kocher said. "We weren't sure if it applied to specific portions or to a larger portion of our responsibilities under Act 13, and so we wanted to get clarification on that before we proceeded with our final implementation order."

Kocher said the PUC's delay means a later due date for the administrative details it needs from local governments affected by the drilling impact fee law. However, it doesn't mean the law's implementation is coming to a screeching halt.

"We are going to continue moving forward with a lot of our actions here but the implementation order provided some direction in some forms and deadlines for people to get information back to us," Kocher said.

In the meantime, the PUC is postponing some of its final implementation orders, which require certain information from drillers and municipalities affected by the state law.

Kocher said the delay won't affect the exchange of money, neither from drilling companies paying fees to the state, nor to the local governments getting a share of that revenue.