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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

High Court Decision May Affect ACRE

Thursday, April 03, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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HARRISBURG – In December 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a decision that may have far-reaching implications for ACRE and other state laws that preempt local ordinances.

The decision revolved around Act 13, which is the law that established the ground rules for Marcellus shale gas well drilling in Pennsylvania. Under Act 13, state permitting decisions on the location of Marcellus shale gas wells could not be overridden by local ordinances.

But the Supreme Court struck down that section of Act 13, citing Article 27 of the Commonwealth’s Constitution, known as the “Environmental Rights Amendment.” The court held that that amendment guaranteed certain environmental rights to citizens that the state could not take away by overriding or “preempting” local ordinances, as in Act 13.

Several environmental groups have now set their sights on overturning ACRE, which they believe takes too much power away from local governments to set their own environmental rules.

ACRE is law that was backed by PLNA that allows agriculture operations, including nurseries, landscape contractors and garden centers, to appeal local ordinances to the attorney general that they believe impede their right to carry on their business. The ACRE law has helped several PLNA members when a local government unjustifiably interfered with their business.

You can read more about ACRE and how it has helped PLNA members by clicking here.

This decision could affect other laws which have a local government preemption in them, such as the Pesticide Control Act (PCA). Under the PCA, local government are prevented from regulating the application of pesticides. If local government preemption in these laws is invalidated, we could have a crazy quilt of local regulation of pesticides from township to township.

Since this is a court issue, a person with legal standing will have to bring a case and pursue it through the legal process to overturn ACRE or other laws. PLNA is monitoring the situation.

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