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Municipalities to Challenge Act 13

A Commonwealth Court judge will hear a request tomorrow by seven Pennsylvania municipalities seeking an immediate injunction against the state's new Marcellus Shale law, Act 13.

South Fayette Township in Allegheny County, Peters, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant and Robinson Townships in Washington County, and Yardley and Nockamixin in Bucks County claim that Act 13 unconstitutionally strips the power of the local governments to control their land and zoning. The land use provisions of the law are to take effect April 14.

Michael Silvestri, Peters Township manager, says if the community does not get the injunction, they will still push to challenge the law.

"We're hoping the court sees the need for the injunction because of all the timing issues associated with trying to meet the requirements of amending our ordinances and defending the case against the new Act 13," Silvestri said.

Silvestri said there is currently no drilling in Peters Township, but there are leases, and adds that the community is not opposed to drilling.

"We just feel that there needs to be adequate protections as far as distances from homes, zones that they can be occurring in, sound controls, environmental controls that need to be reviewed," Silvestri said. "We feel our ordinance is fair and we think drillers could come in and drill in Peters under those conditions."

Counties and municipalities where drilling occurs are eligible to receive revenues from the impact fee. If a county adopts the impact fee, it must accept drilling in all types of zones except densely-populated residential areas.

The Corbett Administration has expressed confidence that the law will be upheld.

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