Responsible Drilling Alliance

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21
Apr

Few quotes across the spectrum of opinion

As we are a sound bite and spin oriented society these days, we wouldn’t want to disappoint you. For quick, easy reading to get you up to speed, as our Texas friends say, let’s begin with a few quotes across the spectrum of opinion:


Let me share a couple erroneous statements made to me in recent days,

1. PSATS endorsed HB1950 and SB 1100…..FALSE

2. PSATS is leading the charge to strip local government of their role……FALSE

3. PSATS doesn’t care about the health and safety of our communities and residents…..ABSOLUTELY FALSE
… .

· As we move forward, the Corbett Administration is still committed to the total stripping of local authority (way BEYOND zoning) through complete pre-emption and is pushing the legislature to eliminate local determination in every way.

PSATS will continue to fight for a local role in this important economic development opportunity so long as it is done environmentally safely and not at a cost to local taxpayers. 

But we need your help!

Please call your State Representative, State Senator, and Governor Corbett at 717-787-2500 and tell them you oppose the re-insertion of pre-emption to exclude local government in any Marcellus legislation!
 –David M. Sanko
Executive Director
PA State Association of Township Supervisors, e-mail to Roulette Township Supervisors Secretary/Treasurer Jonathan Huff

wrote…..However, it’s unclear whether the Corbett administration is open for changing their stance on the zoning aspect of the legislation. In November, the governor actively pushed for a plan that would totally negate all local zoning on Marcellus Shale drilling. –Kevin Zwick, Capitalwire Staff Reporter 12/8/11

… while legislative leaders have reached a compromise favorable to the state’s leading business organizations on zoning, the two chambers are still at odds with each other and the Corbett administration on other important aspects of the proposals…One key component upon which the business groups agreed with the Legislature is the zoning compromise that would allow local officials to regulate oil and gas so long as laws provided for “reasonable” development of oil and gas. Local officials and gas companies would also be able to request that the Attorney General review an ordinance to determine whether it allowed reasonable development….“We… support legislation that sets our clear, statewide, uniform standards reserving to our local governments their relevant zoning powers,” the business organizations

The legislation requires municipalities’ ordinances to ‘provide for the reasonable development of minerals’. What’s reasonable? By and large, that’s for the Attorney General and the Commonwealth Court to decide… the legislation would allow the Attorney General to file suit against the local government in Commonwealth Court, in order to invalidate the ordinance. Effectively, the Pennsylvania Attorney General would be suing on behalf of an aggrieved drilling company. If a special master appointed by Commonwealth Court rules on the driller’s behalf, the court would have the power to make the municipality pay both sides’ legal fees. – Scott Detrow, NPR

Both bills would require local governments to allow gas operations in all zones, including residential. This would eliminate the ability of townships to take steps to protect the health and quality of life of residents and the aesthetics and character of communities. Importantly, many citizens of the Commonwealth could see decreases in the value of their home and property. – Nadia Steinzor, Earthworks Newsletter

 

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings have made it clear that the state Oil and Gas Act gives municipalities the right to use our zoning code to restrict the location of gas wells—similar to how we sometimes restrict other types of economic activity through zoning…

We also believe that local decision making is part of a democratic society. We have been elected and appointed to fully represent the interests of our constituents. This includes the right of municipalities to determine what is best for their communities and residents. 11/16/11 letter from _ local officials to the General Assembly

 

SB 1100 makes sweeping new restrictions on what towns can do with their zoning. Well pads and frack pits full of chemicals will be allowed as close to 300 feet to your home, or your child’s school…the restrictions would make it almost impossible for townships to exercise their rights and obligations to protect their residents, businesses, and community quality of life. – Myron Arnowitt, state director of Clean Water Action

The bills significantly limit municipal land use authority. While neither bill expressly preempts all local land use regulations, it is not clear what meaningful role would remain for local governments. Because of ambiguous drafting and the extent of statewide regulations included in the bills, there is a risk that the legislation could be interpreted to occupy the field of oil and gas regulation and thus fully preempt local zoning authority. Further, on their face, the bills take away the most important zoning tool available, which is the ability to identify which zoning districts are appropriate for which activities. Under SB 1100 and HB 1950, each municipality would be required to allow gas drilling operations in every zoning district. – Jordan B. Yeager, Esq., Curtin & Heefner, LLP, Memorandum, “Limitations on Local Zoning 

 

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