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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Towns sue Pa. over Marcellus Shale law

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A group including seven municipalities Thursday sued the state of Pennsylvania over its new law regulating the rapid growth of natural gas exploration, saying among other things that it unconstitutionally takes away the power to control property from towns and landowners for the benefit of the oil and gas industry.
The approximately 120-page lawsuit was filed in state Commonwealth Court. Plaintiffs include townships in southwestern Pennsylvania , Robinson, Peters, Cecil and Mount Pleasant in Washington County, and South Fayette in Allegheny County , where exploration of the Marcellus Shale is under way, and Nockamixon Township and Yardley Borough in southeastern Pennsylvania's Bucks County where officials are worried about their inability to control future exploration of different natural gas formations.
Among the objectionable provisions cited by the lawsuit are requirements that drilling, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in every zoning district, including residential districts, as long as certain buffers are observed.
"As municipalities can expect hundreds of wells, numerous impoundments, miles of pipelines, several compressor and processing plants, all within (their) borders, they will be left to plan around rather than plan for orderly growth," the lawsuit said.
The industry began descending on Pennsylvania in 2008 in earnest to tap into the Marcellus Shale, a natural gas formation deep underground that is considered the nation's largest-known more...