Peters council members on Monday night heard an update about their multi-municipality lawsuit challenging the state's new Marcellus Shale law, including what the expected response may be from state agencies defending the new law called Act 13.
Township Solicitor William Johnson said he and two other lawyers representing the plaintiffs -- a group of seven municipalities, an environmental group and several individuals -- believe the state attorney general, the Public Utility Commission and other state agencies will challenge the standing of the municipalities participating in the suit.
Mr. Johnson said the group considered that possibility when it decided to include several individuals, including Peters Councilman David Ball, as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The group believes the law is unconstitutional because it restricts the rights of local governments to craft zoning rules for gas drillers and prevents local officials from adequately protecting residents.
Mr. Johnson said the state agencies have until the end of April to respond to the lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Commonwealth Court by the group. Along with Peters, the group includes Cecil, Mount Pleasant and Robinson in Washington County, South Fayette in Allegheny County and Yardley and Nockamixon in Bucks County.
Last week, Senior Judge Keith B. Quigley surprised some of the state's top Republican legislators and Marcellus Shale industry groups by denying their requests to intervene in the lawsuit. He also ordered a 120-day stay for the portion of the law that preempts local zoning laws, though the remainder of Act 13 went into effect April 14.
Also at Monday night's meeting, council members said they were buoyed by receiving several letters of support for the lawsuit from Pittsburgh City Council members, the Lackawanna County Association of Boroughs, and supervisors in Tinicum, Bucks County.marcellusshale - neigh_south - neigh_washington
Janice Crompton: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-851-1867. First Published April 24, 2012 5:30 AM