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Pennsylvania agencies submit brief in shale drilling law appeal

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.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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