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Ohio Utica Shale

Pennsylvania court overturns section of Act 13 drilling law

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2012

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on Thursday ruled that the zoning portion of the state's Act 13 drilling law is unconstitutional,

The decision overturns a key part of the new state law that would have limited local control over where such drilling is allowed.

The law would have stripped municipalities of zoning rights and handed state agencies sole authority to determine where hydraulic fracturing or fracking would be permitted.

It is expected that Gov. Tom Corbett will appeal the decision by the state appeals court to the state supreme court.

Critics of the law had argued that it would have compelled municipalities to allow hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, almost anywhere a company requested, without taking into account surroundings such as nearby schools, homes and waterways.

Industry advocates, however, contended that the law provided a uniform statewide zoning system that would have further bolstered Pennsylvania's fracking boom. The law carved out a niche for the oil and gas sector as the only industry in Pennsylvania exempt from local zoning ordinances.

The issue of who has control over fracking — localities or the state — is playing out almost everywhere that the technique is being used to produce natural gas, and some experts expect this decision to resonate beyond Pennsylvania.Ohio has a law with similar zoning provisions.

 Pennsylvania has 30 days to decide whether to appeal.

Industry advocates suggested that the ruling could slow a fracking rush in the state.

 Marcellus Shale Coalition President Kathryn Z. Klaber said: "Lack of uniformity has long been an Achilles' heel for Pennsylvania and must be resolved if the commonwealth is to remain a leader in responsible American natural gas development and reap the associated economic, environmental and national security benefits."



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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.