The Pennsylvania Constitution, Section 1, Article 27:

“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people.”

In February 2012, Gov. Tom Corbett signed Pennsylvania Act 13 into law to strip Pennsylvania municipalities of their right to protect the health and safety of their residents from shale drilling.

In December 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared major provisions of Act 13, unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution (above). In affirming the municipalities’ standing to bring the Act 13 challenge, which was challenged by the state’s attorneys, Chief Justice Castille wrote in the 162-page majority decision that “the protection of environmental and esthetic interests is an essential aspect of Pennsylvanians’ quality of life and a key part of local government’s role.”

The Court stated, “By any responsible account, the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.”

The decision sent shock waves through the shale gas industry, which had sought legislation guaranteeing uniform statewide land use rules, and the Corbett administration and legislators who had championed passage of the oil and gas law changes.

The Decision and concurring opinion can be found here

Contact your state lawmakers and ask them if they supported Act 13 to strip  your constitutional right in favor of the gas companies and why. Furthermore ask them why they are allowing the governor and the Department of Environmental Protection to use taxpayer money to fight this Supreme Court ruling? Tell them you expect them to uphold the Environmental Rights Amendment in our state constitution.

Read more at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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