|A drilling well pond in Derry, Pa.|
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photo by Andrew Rush)
The Commonwealth Court panel ruled 4-3 that the limitations, in a bill regulating the gas industry, were unconstitutional under state law. The majority opinion found that the provisions upended the municipal zoning rules that had previously been followed by other property owners, unfairly exposing them to harm. Seven municipalities had sued to overturn the five-month-old law. "Among the most objectionable provisions towns cited were requirements that drilling, also known as hydraulic fracking, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in all zoning districts, including residential ones, if certain buffers are observed," Levy reports.