The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday threw out key provisions of a law that had limited the ability of local governments to regulate where gas drilling activity can occur. Some quotes from the justices' opinions and reaction:
"At its core, this dispute centers upon an asserted vindication of citizens' rights to quality of life on their properties and in their hometowns, insofar as (the law) threatens degradation of air and water, and of natural, scenic and aesthetic values of the environment, with attendant effects on health, safety and the owners' continued enjoyment of their private property." __ Chief Justice Ronald Castille, majority opinion.
"When government acts, the action must, on balance, reasonably account for the environmental features of the affected locale ... if it is to pass constitutional muster." __ Castille.
"Later generations paid and continue to pay a tribute to early uncontrolled and unsustainable development financially, in health and quality of life consequences, and with the relegation to history books of valuable natural and aesthetic aspects of our environmental inheritance." __ Castille.
"Oil and gas operations do not function autonomously of their immediate surroundings." __ Castille.
"Like it or not, the bottom line is this — the gas in question will be extracted. It is going to be removed from the earth, and it is going to be transported to refineries. The question for our legislature is not 'if' this will happen, but 'how'." __ Justice J. Michael Eakin in a dissent.
"In terms of the concern for Act 13's impact upon the environment, every form of industry essential to the commonwealth's economic longevity and growth does the same, in some manner and to some degree. Thus, the state's constitutional obligation to 'conserve and maintain' simply cannot mean that Pennsylvania's natural resources may not be responsibly disturbed and utilized." __ Justice Thomas Saylor in a dissent.