Bob Downing

Seven municipalities in twowestern Pennsylvania counties are suing the state and several state agencies in the first challenge to new oil and gas laws, according to a filing todayin Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg.

South Fayette, Peters, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant and Robinson, Washington County, are joined by two municipalities from Bucks County in challenging the state's new restrictions on local land-use laws for drilling, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The municipalities mostly growing suburbs want to retain their rights to say where drilling can happen in their towns and under what circumstances, powers affirmed by the courts before state lawmakers voted in February to restrict those powers.

State lawmakers do not have the right to supersede the state's Municipal Planning Code, the state constitution's tool for authorizing local property rules, they claim in the suit. Several legal experts have been skeptical of that claim and the chance the suit has at overturning the new laws.