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February 09, 2012

The Natural Gas Industry Finds another Loophole in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg Rally4
Pennsylvania Chapter Director Jeff Schmidt speaks at a rally urging state leaders to protect our water, air and communities from fracking.

If you live in Pennsylvania, yesterday the State House voted through a bill that allows natural gas companies to drill only 300 feet from your house, your child’s school, the hospital, and sensitive natural areas.

This dangerous pro-fracking bill is disguised as an "impact fee" bill, but it provided many more loopholes the natural gas industry can exploit. This bill will now go to Governor Corbett's desk to be signed.

The bill, HB 1950 effectively rewrites the drilling laws and adds several new dangerous provisions, including:

  • It allows all types of gas operations in all zoning districts, including residential neighborhoods, near schools, parks, hospitals, and sensitive natural and cultural resource protection areas.  This means people could be forced to live only 300 feet away from a gas well pad, open frack waste pit, or pipeline, despite growing evidence that such development causes pollution, damages health, and lowers property values.
  • The bill also mandates a one-size-fits-all ordinance that supersedes all existing ordinances and prevents municipalities from adopting any zoning provisions that are stricter than the weak, mandated standards.
  • Municipalities will no longer be able to play a central role in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of residents from the oil and gas industry.

By tying the hands of the local municipalities, the State has taken complete control of where drilling takes place and is handing it over to the industry.

In response to this disastrous bill, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

"The natural gas industry has once again found a way to exploit more loopholes and endanger more communities.  This bill shows politicians in Pennsylvania decided to put the gas industry profits ahead of their own people.  If Governor Corbett was to stand up for the citizens of Pennsylvania instead of the gas companies, he would veto this bill."

-- Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Club Natural Gas Reform Campaign

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