PA sup ct fracking decision – Robinson Twp. v. Pa.

If you teach or practice in local government law, property, state constitutional law, or environmental law, I commend to your attention the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Robinson Township v. Pennsylvania, which invalidated the state law – “Act 13” – that controversially sought to facilitate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for natural gas throughout the state.  Act 13 preempted much, if not all, of local control over land use with respect to fracking, and even made local governments liable for money damages if they obstructed the fracking permitting process.

The Pennsylvania supreme court released its opinion on Dec. 19, 2013, which allowed the decision to get lost in the holiday news abyss.  The majority and concurring opinions adopt novel, pathbreaking, and potentially destabilizing rationales, which I summarize below the bump. Continue reading