Defending Rights of Local Towns: Act 13 Zoning Challenge

Regional Office / Program

Case Overview

Act 13 is a controversial Pennsylvania state law that sought to override local zoning laws related to the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Earthjustice filed an amicus brief on behalf of Berks Gas Truth, Brockway Area Clean Water Alliance, Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Earthworks, Environmental Defense Fund, Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition of Luzerne County PA, Group Against Smog and Pollution, Pennsylvania Division of the Izaak Walton League, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley Gas Truth, Local Authority Western PA, Marcellus Outreach Butler, Marcellus Protest, PennEnvironment, Responsible Drilling Alliance, Sierra Club, Thomas Merton Center, and Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s Group, defending the rights of towns to limit the impacts of the fracking-enabled gas drilling boom.

A Pennsylvania court overturned a portion of Act 13 in July of 2012.

The Pennsylvania state law sought to override local zoning laws related to the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

Case Updates

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June 29, 2015 Article

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January 16, 2014 Article

Towns Fight Back Against Fracking

In mid-December the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found Act 13 is unconstitutional. This is a law that allowed state government to override local communities’ zoning decisions to limit hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The decision stems from a lawsuit by seven Pennsylvania municipalities, a doctor and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. Earthjustice submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, representing 22 organizations, including Marcellus Protest, Lehigh Valley Gas Truth and Berks Gas Truth.

December 19, 2013 Press Release: Victory

In Big Victory, PA Supreme Court Rules Local Towns Retain Zoning Power

Declares a portion of pro-fracking, anti-community state law unconstitutional