Court Delivers Blow to Tom Corbett, Drilling Industry

Both both sides trumpeted Thursday's appeals court ruling as a victory.

A Pennsylvania court upheld the rights of municipalities to regulate drilling, delivering a setback to Tom Corbett, the Republican legislature and the drilling industry. In December, a state court ruled that a 2012 law unconstitutionally restricted towns from regulating where oil and gas facilities can be located.

The state won on some points. For example, the court “confirmed that state regulators can be required to notify public water suppliers but not private water well owners of drilling-related spills.” Also, it upheld the limits on what doctors can tell the public about proprietary chemicals used in the extraction process. Yay?

The original lawsuit stems from the Public Utility Commission’s threat to withhold state drilling impact funds from municipalities that regulate the location of oil and gas facilities. When several towns sued the state, the PUC had a hearing scheduled to review their local drilling ordinances.

Both sides of the lawsuit trumpeted yesterday’s ruling as a victory. In a partial dissent from Patricia A. McCullough, she wrote that “the statute has the effect of severely curtailing the medical community’‍s ability to share and discuss solutions concerning chemical toxicity cases and symptomatic presentations that they may never have encountered.”

[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]