Huntley & Huntley, Inc. v. Borough Council, 964 A.2d 855 (Pa 2008); Range Resources – Appalachia, LLC v. Salem Twp., 964 A.2d 869 (Pa. 2009).
Municipalities not preempted by Oil and Gas Act from regulating traditional zoning concepts such as where a natural gas activity may occur, but will be preempted where local ordinance regulates operational aspects of the industry.
The Borough advised Applicant that a conditional use permit was required prior to extracting natural gas within the Borough. Borough Council denied Applicant’s conditional use application and Applicant appealed. Applicant argued that the Borough’s zoning ordinance was preempted by the Oil and Gas Act.
In Huntley, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the Oil and Gas Act does not preempt local regulation of oil and gas wells under the Municipality Planning Code ordinances insofar as the zoning ordinance is regulating only traditional zoning concepts such as location (e.g. what zoning district(s) the use is permitted within). In this instance, the zoning ordinance regulated well location while the Oil and Gas Act regulates operational aspects. Despite upholding the applicability of the ordinance, the Court further determined that mining for natural gas was permissible by conditional use under the zoning ordinance, and that the Applicant’s application should not have been denied.
In contrast, in Range Resources, the Township’s ordinance was amended to establish a comprehensive regulatory scheme that covered numerous operational aspects of natural gas operations. Here the Court concluded that the Oil and Gas Act preempted the ordinance.
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