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City Council Considers Suing State Over Act 13

(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lincoln Place, opposition to Act 13 is strong.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that money can buy politicians, politicians can make laws and laws can ruin people’s lives,” Mark Schneider, of Lincoln Place, said.

“I think Act 13 is a poorly written bill that completely usurps local authority,” City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, D-Carrick, said.

Last year, City Council banned shale gas drilling in Pittsburgh, but Act 13 would trump that ban, saying state law not local zoning regulations will determine where drilling rigs can go.

Rudiak and others on council are now considering joining five local municipalities suing the state.

“It basically sells off our natural resources at a bargain basement price and it’s not good for the citizens of Pennsylvania,” she said.

“What this does is it sets a very clear, concise, consistent standard across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Steven Forde with the Marcellus Coalition said.

The shale gas industry which supported the legislation argues that Act 13 actually strengthens protections by increasing setback distances and imposing impact fees.

“The fact is this is a Pennsylvania industry with strong Pennsylvania interest and it’s one that’s been dedicated to strong environmental protections from the outset,” Forde said.

But in Lincoln Place, Barb Pribila sports a tee shirt emblazoned with the state constitution which she says the act violates.

“I just want to know where our rights are as, ‘We the people,’” she said. “It’s not for us anymore. It’s for the government and for the money in their pockets.”

And whether the law is constitutional may ultimately be a question for the state Supreme Court and it seems likely that that is where it’s headed.

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