Reax to Marcellus decision

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Below are statements from most of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates -- and Gov. Tom Corbett -- in reponse to yesterday's far-reaching Supreme Corut ruling throwing out much of the state's drilling law. Posted in the order of when they dropped in the mailbox:

Katie McGinty, a former DEP secretary:

Katie McGinty, Democratic candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, today said the state Supreme Court's decision to overturn portions of Act 13 is a victory for local municipalities that want to exercise their rights to impose reasonable zoning requirements to protect schools, places of worship, fragile natural areas and other special places from oil and gas drilling.

"This is the right decision for communities and for an industry that says it's committed to working with residents to develop this resource safely and responsibly," McGinty said. "Just like they say about good fences, reasonable zoning restrictions make for good neighbors. Shale gas development is an industrial activity. And while it can be done safely and responsibly, still some places are not well suited for industrial development."

In October, McGinty outlined a jobs plan to grow Pennsylvania's economy by making the state a leader in natural gas development --- all while ensuring commonsense regulations that protect the environment. Among her initiatives is a proposal to allow communities to impose these reasonable zoning requirements on oil and gas operations just as they already do with other types of industrial activity.

Gov. Corbett:

"I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has invalidated some key provisions of Act 13. We are continuing to review today's decision. Act 13 was a bipartisan accomplishment between the Administration and members of the General Assembly, which raised the bar on environmental protection standards while respecting the rights of local governments.

"The Act was crafted with strong input and support from Pennsylvania's local government organizations. We must not allow today's ruling to send a negative message to job creators and families who depend on the energy industry. I will continue to work with members of the House and Senate to ensure that Pennsylvania's thriving energy industry grows and provides jobs while balancing the interests of local communities."

Allyson Schwartz:

"Today's Supreme Court ruling overturning parts of Governor Corbett's law is a victory for local communities who will now have more control to protect our air and water as we harness the tremendous assets in the Marcellus Shale. I am also hopeful that the Commonwealth Court will strike down the physician gag order.

As we move forward, we should also allow Pennsylvanians to profit from the Marcellus Shale by supporting a bipartisan, reasonable severance tax. The additional revenue would grow our economy as we invest in Pennsylvania's public schools, protect our environment, and build a stronger transportation infrastructure."

Ed Pawlowski:

"This law was poorly conceived and it stripped the rights of local officials to protect their communities. It was a gift to an industry that has financially supported Mr. Corbett at the expense of residents who expect their local officials to properly supervise development and drilling activities related to the natural gas that comes from the Marcellus Shale resources. The Supreme Court has put control of local development back where it should be – in the hands of the local communities – and preserved the rights of Pennsylvanians to speak openly with the doctors about medical issues that may be related to the chemicals and processes used in the drilling and processing of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale deposits," Pawlowski said.

"As governor, I will authorize an immediate 10-month review of the Marcellus Shale impacts with a close eye to protecting public health, environmental safety, property rights and considering the potential benefits of a severance tax that is predicted to generate $420 million this fiscal year and $1.2 billion by 2020. I will also order an immediate moratorium on drilling on all public lands."

John Hanger:

"The Court's decision simply reaffirms that local governments can use their zoning powers to separate residential uses from industrial uses as was the case before the passage of Act 13," said Hanger. "Now local governments can protect the health, safety and property values of their residents who reasonably expected that they would not find themselves living next to an intensely industrial activity when they purchased property in a residential zone."

"This decision is also a direct rejection of Governor Corbett's policy of turning over the Commonwealth to the control of the gas drillers," said Hanger. "This governor has shown no leadership in guiding gas drilling policies because he has no independence from the gas industry. The Corbett Administration was bought and paid for by the gas industry, and the Supreme Court has now restored some balance between the drillers and the people who must live with drilling in their communities."

"This decision helps to establish better regulation of the gas industry," said Hanger. "But we need to restore full oversight of the industry and strengthen enforcement of our laws. In addition Pennsylvanians living in the gas fields need a Citizens Drilling Complaint Office to function as an autonomous and independent bureau with responsibility to investigate complaints related to drilling activities in the state."

Tom Wolf:

"Tom Corbett gave his biggest donors and supporters free rein over Pennsylvania's natural resources and local communities but this ruling clearly says that our first responsibility is to ensure that the residents of Pennsylvania have access to clean air and fresh water. We should also take this opportunity to discuss the need for oil and gas companies to pay their fair share so we can invest in education and brighter future for all PA. We have to strike a balance between economic development, environmental protection, and local rights and as governor, I will make sure that we do so."

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