A panel of judges on Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court overturned two key and controversial provisions in Act 13, the state's major re-write of regulations pertaining to hydraulic fracturing that also authorized "shale impact fees" to municipalities in the Marcellus Shale region. The law, which was passed in February 2012, prohibited communities from passing zoning ordnances to limit or restrict oil or natural gas drilling that were more strict than state standards. The judges also struck down a section that allows the state to waive set-back requirements that limit where wells can be located if it approves a driller's resource protection plan.

CSG this week issues a new brief in our Capitol Research series entitled “Transit-Oriented Development.” Using the possibility of development around future high-speed rail stations as a jumping off point, it examines the policy options available to states to try to shape how that development occurs. While high-speed rail has suffered a number of political setbacks in recent months, it remains on track in some parts of the country. But regardless of whether high-speed rail is coming to your state any time soon, there is a great deal of useful information in the brief about the role states can play in shaping the kinds of communities Americans say they want and that best serve our citizens, the environment and the economy. I encourage you to read the brief, which examines the benefits of transit-oriented development, the role of state governments in encouraging it, and the experiences of California and many other states in adopting related policies. If the brief piques your interest, there is an abundance of other worthwhile reading I can point you toward as well.

I’ve written a fair amount over the last year or so about the intersection of transportation and the environment in public policy, about Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth, about Climate Change and Transportation and about Green Transportation. Several new reports on related issues have come across my desk in recent weeks. Here’s a rundown.