Townships Want to Retain Local Decisionmaking on Marcellus Shale

Member Group : News Releases

> Contact: Ginni Linn, Director of Communications
> Pa. State Association of Township Supervisors / Enola, Pa.
> Office: 717-763-0930 / Cell: 717-805-3588 / [email protected]
> Township Association Opposes Bill That Eliminates
> Local Decision-Making Ability over Marcellus Shale Activity
> The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors,
> along with five other local government organizations, today urged
> lawmakers to reconsider language in House Bill 1950, PN 2689, that
> would strip local governments of all decision-making power over oil
> and gas operations in their communities, including where these
> operations could be located.
> In a joint memo to members of the Pennsylvania House of
> Representatives, the groups made clear their opposition to this bill.
> They also proposed revisions that would meet the legislature’s goal of
> establishing uniform regulations while maintaining a reasonable level
> of decision-making ability at the local level.
> PSATS joined with the County Commissioners Association of
> Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the
> Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, the Pennsylvania
> Municipal Authorities Association, and the Pennsylvania Association of
> Township Commissioners in detailing how the existing proposal would
> impact local governments and local communities. The memo is available
> for viewing at
> "We applaud the legislators’ intent to address issues raised by
> the development of the state’s vast Marcellus Shale resource and its
> inclusion of an impact fee to help offset at least a small measure of
> related local expenses," PSATS Executive Director David M. Sanko said.
> "However, the language in House Bill 1950 is an attack on local land
> use decisions. It’s so far-reaching that it would prohibit virtually
> any local regulation of the natural gas drilling industry and possibly
> void existing ordinances, resolutions, and even contracts – all of
> which were implemented with the health, safety, and welfare of
> residents in mind."
> The groups say that the unintended consequences of such strong
> language, which they call "both unprecedented and unwarranted," could
> affect emergency management planning, the training of emergency
> responders, and the validity of highway maintenance agreements between
> municipalities and drilling companies.
> "It throws out the time and taxpayer dollars that local
> governments like Lycoming County have spent in developing model
> ordinances that meet the needs of both industry and the community,"
> the memo states.
> The local government groups advocate a two-part approach to
> amending the language: providing for pre-emption of local authority
> comparable to that in existing statutory and case law and establishing
> a common set of local zoning standards.
> "Our stance on this issue is nothing new," Sanko says. "The
> local government groups have been working with the industry for almost
> a year to address any concerns about uniformity in local regulation.
> The drilling industry in Pennsylvania has a great potential to benefit
> our entire state, and we know that balancing community impact with
> environmental protection and economic development opportunities is
> absolutely doable.
> "PSATS will continue to work with the other local government
> associations and the legislature to make sure we’re moving toward the
> same goals: what’s right for our communities and what’s right for
> Pennsylvania."
> The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors
> represents Pennsylvania’s 1,455 townships of the second class and for
> the past 90 years has been committed to preserving and strengthening
> township government and securing greater visibility and involvement
> for townships in the state and federal political arenas. Townships of
> the second class represent more residents – 5.5 million Pennsylvanians
> – than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth.