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Robinson Township v. Commonwealth

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20159
Nos. 284 M.D. 2012, (Pa. Commw. Ct., 07/17/2014)

A Pennsylvania court severed in part and struck down in part certain provisions of Act 13, pertaining to oil and gas operations in the Marcellus Shale, that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court left undisturbed in its December 2013 decision invalidating portions of the law on constitutional grounds. On remand, the lower court was asked to determine whether previously undisturbed provisions of Act 13 were severable from the stricken section. The court held that the Act's spill notice requirements, physician non-disclosure requirements, and eminent domain provisions are constitutional. However, provisions that give the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) jurisdiction to review local zoning ordinances applicable to oil and gas development, and to withhold impact fees from any municipality where the PUC determined that the relevant zoning ordinances violated Act 13, must be struck down. These provisions are so dependent on and interdependent with the unconstitutional portions of Act 13 that it cannot be presumed that the General Assembly would give the PUC jurisdiction to review the validity of local ordinances. Challenges to local ordinances must instead be brought in common pleas court.