August 21, 2012 —
HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled on August 15 that municipalities are not required to obey Act 13 while the Robinson Township decision, which struck down the “pre-emption clause” of Act 13, is appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. That clause would have had the effect of superseding municipalities’ ordinances local zoning laws, bans and moratoria on gas drilling.
Immediately following the original Robinson decision, handed down on July 26, was appealed by the Commonwealth, the defendant in the case. Under Pennsylvania’s appellate court rules, when the Commonwealth appeals from an injunction order, that underlying injunction order is automatically stayed during the course of the appeal. The plaintiffs therefore had to make a special argument that the injunctive relief against the act should be enforced during the appeal.
The court granted the plaintiffs’ request, finding that the parties challenging Act 13 have a reasonable likelihood of success on appeal, that they would suffer irreparable harm without the injunction blocking enforcement of Act 13, and that there is minimal harm to the public by allowing the injunction to stay in place during the appeal.
The Supreme Court still has not decided when it will hear the state’s challenge to the Robinson Township decision.