Exposed: Pennsylvania Act 13 Overturned by Supreme Court, Originally an ALEC Model Bill

Exposed: Pennsylvania Act 13 Overturned by Supreme Court, Originally an ALEC Model Bill by Steve Horn, July 27, 2012, desmogblog
On July 26, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled PA Act 13 unconstitutional. The bill would have stripped away local zoning laws, eliminated the legal concept of a Home Rule Charter, limited private property rights, and in the process, completely disempowered town, city, municipal and county governments, particularly when it comes to shale gas development. The Court ruled that Act 13 “…violates substantive due process because it does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications – irrational because it requires municipalities to allow all zones, drilling operations and impoundments, gas compressor stations, storage and use of explosives in all zoning districts, and applies industrial criteria to restrictions on height of structures, screening and fencing, lighting and noise.” Act 13 — pejoratively referred to as “the Nation’s Worst Corporate Giveaway” by AlterNet reporter Steven Rosenfeld — would have ended local democracy as we know it in Pennsylvania. … In May 2011, TX SB 875 passed almost unanimously. The bill essentially calls for the elimination, in one fell swoop, of the common law of private nuisance in Texas. SB 875’s key operative paragraph explains, [Entities] subject to an administrative, civil, or criminal action brought under this chapter for nuisance or trespass arising from greenhouse gas emissions [have] an affirmative defense to that action if the person’s actions that resulted in the alleged nuisance or trespass were authorized by a rule, permit, order, license, certificate, registration, approval, or other form of authorization issued by the commission or the federal government or an agency of the federal government… Texas — home to the Barnett Shale basin and the Eagle Ford Shale basin — played a dirty trick here, but what else would one expect from the government of a Petro State? The ALEC model bill calls for a transition from centralized power by local governments to individual property rights under the common law of private nuisance, a civil suit that allows those whose private property has been damaged to file a legal complaint with proper authorities. Now, under the dictates of SB 875, even these rights have been eviscerated. Perhaps Texas exemplifies a realization of the oil and gas industries’ ideal world: legal rights for no one except themselves. “This [bill allows] the willful trespass onto private property of chemicals and or nuisances, thus destroying the peaceful enjoyment of private property, which someone may have put their life savings into,”

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