In delving into Pa Act 13 and Shale Gas fracking and development for my case load and my current zoning work, this 200 page ROBINSON TOWNSHIP v. COMMONWEALTH opinion from December is the most fascinating and powerful Pa Supreme Court Case, maybe ever. The decision ruled that certain parts of the Act violated the Pennsylvania Constitution. The opinion then; (1) adds incredible “meat” to the bones of the 1970′s Environment Rights Amendment to the Pa Constitution (Pa is one of only three states to have such an amendment, but it was thought to be of very limited effect); (2) Makes both state and local government officials “trustees” of the environment for future generations; (3) makes state-wide zoning without local approval nearly impossible; (4) constitutionalizes local zoning making the later permitting of more intense uses in restrictive areas nearly impossible; (5) may just give private persons a “constitutional tort” claim allowing them to sue their local government officials for any act or omission that may have an environmental impact in violation of their constitutional rights to a clean environment under the Pa constitution and; (6) gives potential plaintiffs suing a municipality plenty of ammunition to argue that this activity should be limited to Industrial Zones only, despite the abundance of current drilling going on throughout other more restrictive zones of many municipalities, setting up huge potential conflicts with private property interests under the takings clause of the constitution. WOW. This case will quite literally fuel at least a decade of litigation for us lawyers to sort out and interpret the scope of Justice Castille’s decision.