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Pa. Supreme Court Weighs Future Of Gas Drilling

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Can the state force municipalities to allow drilling pads in residential neighborhoods like the one in South Fayette or within 300 feet of a school like South Fayette Elementary?

That's the question before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and more than 100 anti-drilling advocates who showed up to voice their opposition to Act 13.

"This defies common sense and reason to allow this activity – this major industrial activity - within residential areas," said Ron Slabe of Upper Burrell.

Arguing before the court, attorneys for the state said Act 13's regulations and setback requirements trump municipal zoning laws.

"The general assembly decides what powers local government has or doesn't have. It can give them; it can take them away," said Matt Haverstick, attorney for the state.

But lawyers for South Fayette and other suing municipalities says the state overreached its powers.

"The state today confirmed what they said all along, that they can put anything anywhere they want and they don't care what the municipalities have to say about it," said attorney Jonathan Kamin.

But without standard state regulations, the shale gas industry says it can't prosper in Pennsylvania.

"There are 2,500 municipalities in Pennsylvania and if you have 2,500 different rules you're going to find an industry that's confronted with an impossible situation and will ultimately have to go elsewhere to develop its resources," said Walter Bunt, an industry attorney.

Some Municipalities With Gas Drilling Not Getting Compensation (10/16/12)
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