Judge foils gas drillers

Judge foils gas drillers by Paul Carpenter, July 28, 2012, The Morning Call
This past week’s defeat for the gas drillers, even if only temporary, should not come as a surprise. (When the Commonwealth Court ruling is appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which knows how to play ball with the powerful, the rabble probably will be defeated, again.) Pellegrini wrote, and cast the key vote in, a sensational 4-3 ruling by the appellate court, released Thursday. That decision was to protect the peasants of Nockamixon Township in Bucks County, and of six other municipalities, from gas drillers who want to be able to foul wells and streams without the meddling of local zoning officials. The ruling trashed much of a new state law, enacted in February by the Harrisburg crowd, the recipients of millions of dollars in so-called “political campaign contributions” from generous gas industry people. (Gov. Tom Corbett received around $1 million just for himself.) The law, Act 13, prohibited the enforcement of any local zoning rules that got in the way of the hydraulic fracturing process…. After pocketing his “campaign contributions,” Corbett promised the gas robber barons that Pennsylvania would remain the only gas-producing state in America that does not have a meaningful “severance tax” on the value of gas extracted. All this, Pellegrini’s ruling observed, was in brazen defiance of the Pennsylvania Constitution, where Article I, Section 27, says this: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and for the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people. …”

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