Last month, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed and Governor Tom Corbett signed an historic and sweeping overhaul of gas-drilling regulations for the state (HB 1950). The measure imposes a per-well fee on drillers, updates state environmental regulations and includes restrictions on local zoning laws. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The largest ripples from the bill will be felt by local officials, who will be forced to rewrite strict drilling ordinances or find themselves locked in costly legal battles.
Under the new law, municipalities cannot prevent gas drilling in most areas, except for residential areas of a certain density. Rules cannot be more stringent for drilling than for other industrial activities.
Tougher ordinances would be subject to review by the PUC and could cost a town its share of the impact fee dollars.
“Well over 100 municipalities are going to find out that their ordinances have been declared illegal,” predicted Myron Arnowitt, state director of Clean Water Action.
Already, officials in South Fayette, Peters, Robinson and Cecil are considering legal action against House Bill 1950.
On Wednesday, March 14, the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, in collaboration with the Local Government Academy and the Post-Gazette’s award-winning PIPELINE shale news website, will present a free informational forum at the Heinz History Center on the preemption of local control of Marcellus Shale drilling titled “Marcellus Shale and the Challenges of Intergovernmental Coordination.” The event will address such issues as next steps for local governments; how local, state and federal entities will coordinate shale production regulation, environmental oversight and revenue collection; how state oversight will be balanced with local zoning rules; and if public safety will be ensured.
The panel will be moderated by WQED Multimedia President and CEO Deborah Acklin and featured panelists will include:
- The Honorable Kathleen McGinty – Former Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection; Appointed to the Federal Energy Subcommittee on Natural Gas dealing with shale gas best practices; Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Strategic Growth at Weston Solutions, Inc.
- Jules Lobel– Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh and the Bessie McKee Wathour Endowed Chair at the School of Law; President of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
- Shannon Debes – Legislative Committee Chair, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association (PA-APA) ; Chaired the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh’s Marcellus Shale issues study.
- Ed Knittel – Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB), Senior Director of Education and Sustainability.
- Sean Hamill – Reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and its award-winning Pipeline website on shale news.
Marcellus Shale and the Challenges of Intergovernmental Coordination
When: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 from 7 PM to 9 PM
Where: Heinz History Center, 5th Floor, 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (map)
Cost: This event is free and open to the public.