A Commonwealth Court judge has granted an injunction on the portion of the new Marcellus Shale law that limits the power of local municipalities to regulate land use with regard to drilling.
The subjugation of local zoning decisions was one of those bits hammered out behind closed doors by the Corbett administration and the drilling industry and then sent flying through the governor's legislature.
The section of the new act would have gone into effect this weekend but will be delayed four months to give a group of municipalities a chance to argue the rule's constitutionality.
Corbett and his staff are taking the challenge in stride. Corbett spokesman Eric Shirk said, "All this means is that municipalities will get an additional 120 days to come into compliance." One might read a bit of arrogance into that assessment.
The municipal leaders who filed suit believe that their local ordinances protect the health and welfare of their communities as well as property values. After all, that's what municipal planning and zoning is supposed to do.
The Corbett administration likely won't argue the concept, only that the state is free to supercede local decisions when it comes to one of the governor's key campaign contributors.
You may discern at this point that we're sympathetic to the cause of the municipalities, believing that, in general, decisions affecting the health, welfare, safety and property values of local areas are best decided by the people directly affected by those decisions.
And, frankly, the manner in which the new law was fabricated has always struck us as legislation of the business, by the business and for the business.
A higher court will ultimately decide the fate of this section of the new law. However, if the rule is upheld, the precedent could make local zoning ordinances vulnerable to new whims from Harrisburg.