FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Jesse White
White releases statement on overturned sections of Act 13
WASHINGTON, PA., July 26 – Rep. Jesse White, D-Washington/Allegheny/Beaver, released the following comments on Commonwealth Court’s ruling to strike down key sections of Act 13, Pennsylvania’s law governing energy harvesting in the Marcellus Shale:
“Today’s decision by the Commonwealth Court to strike down the local zoning restrictions in Act 13 as unconstitutional is a major victory, not just for the municipalities with the prudence and courage to challenge this ill-conceived law, but for all Pennsylvanians who demand accountability and responsibility when it comes to natural gas development.
"Hopefully we can now stop the bullying and the buying-of-influence and truly work together to develop a responsible approach that will allow development of Marcellus Shale while creating a culture of true accountability and responsibility. Today’s decision reaffirms that our constitutional protections are not for sale.
“Despite the $1.3 million spent by energy-industry lobbyists to write and pass their own law, the court did the right thing by recognizing the massive problems created by Act 13. The challenge to this law was not a partisan issue, and today’s outcome has nothing to do with trying to stifle responsible natural gas development. But eliminating local ordinances and replacing them with a ridiculously low standard that could not be strengthened by local elected officials is not the proper way to do business in Pennsylvania and falls dramatically short of the definition of a ‘good neighbor.’
“Article III, Section 32 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states that ‘The General Assembly shall pass no local or special law in any case which has been or can be provided for by general law and specifically the General Assembly shall not pass any local or specific law: 1. Regulating the affairs of counties, cities, townships, wards, boroughs, or school districts, … or 7. Regulating labor trade, mining or manufacturing.’
“In plain English, the legislature cannot pass a law that impacts people for the sole purpose of benefiting a specific industry; that’s exactly what Act 13 did, and that’s why the court ruled to strike down the local zoning provision in the law.
“Act 13 was about a lack of local accountability and transparency that allowed companies to do virtually anything they wanted without real oversight or concern for existing property owners. It was about maximizing profits, overreaching and greed at the expense of our constitutional rights, and it was just wrong.
“I welcome the upcoming debate about how to develop a real policy solution that strikes a balance between the economic benefits of natural gas development and protecting the people of Pennsylvania, knowing full well that this crucial part of the law will be on our side."