Attorneys for Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Public Utility Commission (PUC) filed a brief [text, PDF] with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania [official websites] Tuesday arguing that the appellate court erred in overturning [JURIST report] portions of Pennsylvania's Act 13 [DEP backgrounder]. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court [official website] ruled in July that the act violated the state's constitution by placing zoning rights regarding hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" [JURIST news archive] solely in the hands of state authorities. The brief argues that the appellate court applied an improper legal standard in its ruling [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report] and should have deferred to the state legislature.
Fracking has been a contentious issue in the US recently. In July North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed a bill [SB 820 materials; JURIST report] that would have lifted the state's ban on fracking. In May Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law [JURIST report] a bill outlawing fracking in the state. In January the New Jersey Legislature passed an amendment to a bill that establishes a one-year ban on fracking [JURIST report]. Legislators re-introduced the bill this year after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed legislation last June that would have permanently banned fracking in New Jersey [JURIST report]. In October the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to develop standards [JURIST report] for wastewater discharge from fracking. Last June New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the US government [JURIST report] for its alleged failure to study the risks of fracking.