A year-end gift from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Parts of Act 13 unconstitutional
When I was first volunteering for local anti-fracking campaigns a year ago, we had an image on file in case Act 13 was declared unconstitutional. Act 13 is the 2011 law that places all manner of restrictions not on fracking itself, but on attempts to control it by local communities. This law will be familiar to communities in Colorado who have had to argue not just against fracking, but for their right to have any input into into where and how they get fracked. Clearly, the frackers see democracy as their enemy, and state governments and other politicians as their enforcers. Well-paid enforcers at that, as the fossil fuel industry gave more than $4 million to state legislators since 2006.
Fast forward a year, and the Supreme Court of my state has finally spoken, and spoken out decisively. They have struck down Act 13 not just because it violates private property, but because it violates the Environmental Rights Amendment and the Pennsylvania Constitution. In doing so, the justices said clearly that the planet is more important than private property, and certainly more important than the rights of the frackers to drill and despoil.
So, for anyone who doubted: it is possible to defeat fracking in Pennsylvania. It takes a long time, and it can't only depend on six Supreme Court justices. Courts follow, they don't lead. But it can and has happened.
This victory belongs to everyone who fought the law in the first place, like our friends at PennEnvironment, and the local fracking fighters like Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Karen Feridun of Berks Gas Truth. Environmental Action members were proud to partner with all these fracktivists in 2013 and will keep standing strong with in the coming year, as well as all the heroic plaintiffs who stood up the frack years.
Next year in no one's back yard, or planet. Ban Fracking in 2014!