SIGN THE PETITION to preserve community rights. As of noon Monday, Nov. 21, 10,167 citizens have signed on!
Twelve months ago citizens and organizations like the Sierra Club were calling for a state-wide moratorium on shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania. “Let’s know what the environmental consequences of high-volume, deep shale drilling are before we plunge ahead.” This past week all hopes of a moratorium were lost as both branches of the state legislature squeezing out the smallest extraction tax they thought possible without offending the gas industry, mollifying local authorities with some funds for road repair and a modest tightening of drilling standards. Lost last week was that vestige of the moratorium concept – the preservation of a community’s right to set measures to control drilling within its own area. What is left is a precarious moratorium on additional drilling leasing on state forestlands.
It is now up to the leaders of the Senate and the House to tweak the amount of fees on gas wells. They will need to determine who will collect the fees, the Public Utility Commission or impacted counties. Also at issue is the amount of bonding required to deal with abandoned wells. And they will need to decide where the money goes besides local authorities – the Growing Greener program, DCNR and DEP, the General Fund, etc.
So how did your Senator or Representative vote? Senate bill SB 1100 passed 30 to 20; the local Democratic Senators voting NAY were Brewster (McKeesport), Costa (Forest Hills), Ferlo (Pittsburgh), Fontana (Pittsburgh), and Kasunic (Dunbar), along with anti-tax Republican Orie (Ross). Voting AYE for SB 1100 were local Republicans Pippy (Moon), Robbins (Greenville), Vogel (Rochester), D. White (Indiana), M J White (Franklin), Ward (Greensburg), and Democrats from the coal patch Sollobay (Canonsburg) and Wozniak (Johnstown)
In the House, HB 1950 passed 107 to 76, with local anti-tax Republicans Hutchinson (Oil City), Krieger (Greensburg), Maher (Upper St Clair), and Metcalfe (Cranberry) bucking their leadership and voting NAY, and local Democrats Burns (Johnstown), Gergely (White Oak), Gibbons (Ellwood City), and Petrarca (Vandergrift) bucking their leadership and voting AYE.