Pennsylvania shale law challenged

July 27, 2012 at 6:50 AM

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 27 (UPI) -- A law on natural gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania violates the interests of local governments and property owners, a court of appeals ruled.

A Pennsylvania court ruled that a 5-month-old law on natural gas drilling operations in the Marcellus shale play "does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications," the Platts news service reports.

The court upheld part of the law that gave the state Department of Environmental Protection power to make policies otherwise reserved for the state's legislative assembly. It struck down a challenge to the constitutionality of the state law that classifies the oil and natural gas sector differently from other industries, however.

Environmental groups expressing concern about the fallout from shale natural gas extraction methods in the state declared victory following the court's decision.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, however, said clarity and uniformity is needed in the state if it's to maintain a leadership position in U.S. natural gas development.

The U.S. Geological Survey in June said gas reserves in the region could hold as much as 876 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

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