Legal counsel for Gov. Tom Corbett filed an application Thursday for reconsideration of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling to strike down key provisions of Act 13, or the state's Oil and Gas Act.
Last month, the court ruled that the zoning provisions in the law were unconstitutional. Act 13 had stripped municipalities of the power to determine where natural-gas-drilling activity could occur.
“In announcing a never-before-employed balancing test against which the constitutional validity of the law is to be judged, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made its own sweeping factual findings regarding the impact of Act 13, none of which finds any support in the sparse and uneven factual record that was made before Commonwealth Court,” James Schultz, general counsel for the governor, said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s decision is a stunning departure from the historical practice of that court, and an unrestrained venture into a fact-finding role that the court always has insisted is not its proper place in the judicial system.”
The commonwealth is asking the Supreme Court to remand the case to Commonwealth Court for the development of an evidentiary record. It also seeks application of the court’s newly pronounced standards to the facts as found by the Commonwealth Court and a “fair and final” determination as to whether Act 13 is unconstitutional based on a full record and formal findings.
In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection is asking the Supreme Court to reconsider a decision that certain provisions of Act 13 that involve the agency’s responsibility to protect public resources, such as public parks, cannot stand separately from provisions that the court has determined are unconstitutional.