Pennsylvania Governor Asks Supreme Court to Reconsider Decision Striking Down Act 13

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Governor Tom Corbett is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reconsider its December 19, 2013 decision striking down key provisions of Act 13—a bill aimed at regulation of drilling activity in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale deposit.

As we wrote here last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the 2012 law by a 4-3 vote, with the majority concluding that Act 13 violated the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania constitution, creating “a direct and harmful degradation of the environmental quality of life in [Pennsylvania’s] communities and zoning districts.”

But on Thursday, lawyers for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and Department of Environmental Protection filed an Application for Reconsideration, asking the Court to remand the case for further fact-finding and application of its “newly-minted  ‘balancing’ test.”

According to a press release from Governor Corbett’s office, the Supreme Court’s decision represents a “stunning departure from the historical practice of that Court, and an unrestrained venture into a fact-finding role that the Court always has insisted is not its proper place in the judicial system.”

Accordingly, the Governor’s office is seeking “remand [of] the case to Commonwealth Court for the development of an evidentiary record (through a fair and thorough process in which all parties have a real and equal opportunity to participate), application of the Court’s newly-pronounced standards to the facts as found by the Commonwealth Court (with legal briefs from all parties), and finally a fair and final determination as to whether Act 13 violates Article I, Section 27 based on a full record and formal findings.

Additional coverage of the filing can be found here, here, and here.  We will continue to provide updates as the case progresses.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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