As the state Supreme Court prepares to hear a challenge next week to the July Commonwealth Court ruling that a portion of Pennsylvania's new drilling law unconstitutional, a number of towns' local shale rules remain in limbo.
While the appeal has been pending, the state Public Utility Commission has begun review of requests for either the agency's informal or binding opinions on whether local ordinances go too far in their attempts to regulate gas drilling.
Part of the agency's new authority to determine whether local rules comply with the new state rules in Act 13 remains on hold, but the PUC says it still is charged with reviewing those ordinances to see if they meet other criteria related to drilling operations and environmental issues.
Those reviews fall into two categories: informal advisory requests, filed by municipal or county officials and which carry no penalty for non-compliance, and official reviews.
Four towns are awaiting official rulings on whether their drilling rules are acceptable. All four -- South Fayette, Robinson, Cecil, and Mount Pleasant -- are part of the Act 13 legal challenge, along with Peters and two Bucks County towns.
If the PUC responds to the official review requests filed by local residents or drillers that a set of municipal rules do not comply with the new state law, they stand to lose their share of the new impact fee dollars that will be distributed this fall.
Here's an update -- according to data available on the PUC website as of Oct. 9 -- on the opinions issued by the agency, with links to official documents:
PENDING OFFICIAL REVIEWS:
- South Fayette
- Mount Pleasant
ADVISORY OPINIONS ISSUED:
- Fayette County - 9/5/2012
- North Towanda, Bradford - 9/5/2012
- City of Pittsburgh- 9/10/2012
- Athens, Bradford County - 9/10/2012
- Graham, Clearfield County - 9/10/2012
- Washington Township, Erie County - 9/19/2012
- Connellsville, Fayette County - 9/19/2012
- Monaca, Beaver County - 9/19/2012
- Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County - 9/21/2012
- Roaring Brook Township, Lackawanna County - 9/21/2012
- Kidder Township, Carbon County - 10/2/2012
- Newton Township, Lackawanna County - 10/2/2012
- Shippingport, Beaver County - 10/2/2012