Letter to the Editor:
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected Gov. Tom Corbett’s request to reverse the Act 13 decision, which struck down key provisions in the natural gas drilling laws as unconstitutional.
Locally, Newlin Township, the little township that could, stood up, fought back and won in 2012 when these provisions of Act 13 were first struck down. Now all of Pennsylvania has won because of the decision not to reverse the previous decision.
Under Tom Corbett and the Republican majority leadership, Act 13 would have undermined local democracy and taken away local government’s zoning authority. Communities would have been mandated to allow drilling in all sections of a town, including near schools, playgrounds and hospitals.
Unfortunately, we’re not done yet with Act 13. Although this ruling means this decision is final, the matter will return to the Commonwealth Court as they try to hash out what will happen with other controversial provisions, including the physician’s gag rule regarding fracking chemicals.
Under Act 13’s provisions, doctors would be prohibited from disclosing information they may have regarding chemical exposure to their patients or other doctors. Additionally, Act 13 gives gas companies eminent domain authority, something that should be used sparingly, by government with oversight by the people, and never for profit. Finally Act 13 gives different rules when it comes to providing notice to gas well neighbors who have public water vs. private water.
How many billable hours of outside attorneys and state-employed attorneys have been spent on this unconstitutional law? What has the cost in taxpayer dollars been? Not only has Tom Corbett’s administration basically given away our natural gas by not imposing a sensible severance fee, but they have also attempted to give unprecedented power to an industry while limiting accountability and transparency to the people.
The Pennsylvania Legislature majority leadership wrote and passed this bill knowing it stripped away Pennsylvanians constitutional rights. Above all else, legislators should put the people’s rights above corporate greed. The people deserve better!
Candidate for the 158th District
of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives