Suit over Pa. Marcellus Shale law goes to judges

Seven Commonwealth Court judges will decide on a constitutional challenge by seven municipalities to portions of Pennsylvania's new law regulating the rapid growth of natural gas exploration.

The panel heard arguments Wednesday during a session in which the judges repeatedly challenged lawyers from both sides in the closely watched case.

The heart of the argument is the extent of the state's power to tell municipalities where they must allow drilling-related activity. That includes rigs, waste pits, pipelines and the compressor and processing stations that help get gas to consumers.

At one point, President Judge Dan Pellegrini asked a lawyer representing the state whether municipal zoning becomes irrational if the state does for every industry what it did for the natural gas industry.


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