Our opinion:?State to court, think again
Here’s something you don’t see every day: A request to a Supreme Court that it rethink a recent ruling.
It obviously came as a shock to both the drilling industry and two state agencies that much of the meat in a state 2012 law that regulates natural gas drilling was struck down, though opponents of the act maintain that it actually relaxed regulation.
Last week, lawyers for the state Public Utilities Commission and Department of Environmental Protection filed a motion with the Supreme Court saying that the court did not take into consideration some scientific and scholarly evidence prior to its ruling and should take another look at how much of the law remains in force.
Specifically, the court struck down impact fees and limits on the power of local governments to determine where the gas industry can operate.
The request for reconsideration contends that the court record did not contain sufficient facts regarding a balancing test to determine if the 2012 law violates Section 27 of the state constitution’s declaration of rights, a provision referred to as the Environmental Rights Amendment.
Predictably, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case contend that the request to the court is nothing more than “sour grapes.”
It has always struck us as incongruous to the symbiotic relationship between local and state government that the state could overrule local land use and zoning regulations to benefit a specific industry.
It is also the first time we can remember an agency charged with protecting the environment champion the cause of more relaxed oversight and might seem to indicate as Jonathan Kamin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs noted, that the agencies have an “inappropriate stake” in the law.
The administration argues that the law will have an immediate and disruptive effect on how people live and that it “alters existing expectations of communities and property owners.”
Show us a law that does not alter existing expectations.