Press Release from Environment America:
“Pennsylvania Supreme Court Restores Local Control over Fracking
For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Contact John Rumpler,
Environment America http://www.environmentamerica.org/news/ame/pennsylvania-supreme-court-restores-local-control-over-fracking (Pittsburgh) – “PennEnvironment applauds today’s decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that overturned sections of Pennsylvania’s controversial gas drilling law, known as Act 13. With this ruling, municipal governments will once again have the ability to determine when and where fracking occurs in their locality. This is crucial for protecting public health, our environment and our communities.
“Today the Supreme Court delivered an early holiday gift to all Pennsylvanians who have said from day one that Act 13 was unconstitutional, extreme and a massive overreach by special interests. In an age where powerful interests such as the oil and gas industry dominate the political process in Harrisburg and alienate the general public, this court decision comes as a welcome victory where David has taken on Goliath – and won. Kudos to Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Jordan Yeager, John Smith, and the Pennsylvania communities who sustained this legal challenge from beginning to end.
“I find it ironic that our Republican-led administration that supposedly abhors government overreach and bureaucracy would fight for such policies, even going so far as to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s initial decision on this matter. Members of the legislature who voted for Act 13, a law with provisions so extreme that the courts found it unconstitutional, should feel ashamed. Today’s decision reaffirmed what Pennsylvanians from every corner of the commonwealth already know—that when it comes to gas drilling and fracking, local communities must have the ability to make thoughtful decisions to protect our citizens, our environment and our quality of life.
“While likely only in its infancy stage, shale gas extraction has left environmental damage and destruction in its wake: from water and air pollution; to exposure to toxic chemicals; to well blowouts and explosions; we’ve seen in no uncertain terms this intensive and shortsighted industrial activity should not be forced on our residential communities.
“The local zoning preemption provisions that were struck down today were shocking and appalling–tying the hands of local communities. We are heartened to see that the Court recognized this massive overreach by the Pennsylvania legislature is indeed unconstitutional.
“Across the country, we have seen local communities in Colorado, New Mexico, upstate New York, and most recently, Dallas, Texas, move to protect their citizens from dirty drilling when state officials have failed to do so. Given Harrisburg’s steadfast refusal to defend our air and water, today’s decision comes not a moment too soon.
“Additionally, we are encouraged by the Court’s reversal of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s decision on the so-called ‘medical gag rule’ provision of Act 13. Today’s decision now allows medical professionals to challenge the non-disclosure agreement within the law that would have prevented them from publicly sharing information they learned about certain chemicals and procedures used in fracking.
“All in all, this comes as very welcome news.” http://www.environmentamerica.org/news/ame/pennsylvania-supreme-court-restores-local-control-over-fracking
As reported in the Guardian:
“Pennsylvania supreme court strikes part of industry-friendly fracking law Energy industry at the heart of US drilling considers next moves after reductions to 2012 law limiting local government regulation
Associated Press in Harrisburg, theguardian.com,
Friday 20 December 2013 15.13 GMT”
“Among the objectionable provisions cited by the lawsuit were requirements that drilling, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in every zoning district, including residential, as long as certain buffers were observed.” Read article here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/20/pennsylvania-supreme-court-industry-fracking-law
Even as some local property rights are being restored in Pennsylvania, Amish are reverse migrating back to Pennsylvania after sometimes over 200 years in Ohio. The Amish who use horse and buggy rather than automobiles and use no electricity are fleeing after some incidences where the horse and buggies were run over by oil trucks. Having fled Switzerland and elsewhere, largely due to religious persecution, they are now fleeing again. Nonetheless, similar attempts at local control are on the table in Ohio too:
“INSIGHT-To flee Ohio oil boom, Amish cash out by selling royalties http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/energy-ohio-amish-idUSL2N0JH1XH20131220?feedType=RSS&feedName=rbssEnergyNews
From the Reuters article: “Some Amish, traditionalist Christians numbering about 280,000 across the United States, are sitting on prime drilling land in eastern Ohio, but many say the rapid development is encroaching on their pastoral way of life.
Already this year, several oil trucks have been involved in fatal collisions with Amish horse-drawn buggies in the region’s narrow and winding roads.
So, many Amish are cashing out to escape the noise as their bucolic landscape of lush green hills becomes dotted with oil storage tanks and rumbles with the buzz of oil rigs.
“If all this traffic and development is crazy here today, what’s it going to be like in three or four years?” Eli Byler, a member of an Amish community in Ohio’s Guernsey County, said at his farmhouse, his 4-year-old grandson bobbing on his knee…At least 35 other Amish families plan to sell their royalty rights and make an exodus from the Buckeye State to parts of Pennsylvania or New York state with little or no energy development, said Byler…”
Amish history timeline is here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/amish/
PS: The Amish show that people can survive without motorized vehicles, electricity, etc. But, their peaceful, farming lifestyle is being encroached upon by the oil and gas industry.
Update, Sunday 22 December 2013
According to this article the Amish generally do not involve themselves in lawsuits and hence are unable to fight the oil companies when there is breach of contract, and the oil and gas companies take advantage of this. Excellent article:
“The Amish Are Getting Fracked
Their religion prohibits lawsuits—and the energy companies know it
Religion June 6, 2013
By Molly Redden” http://www.newrepublic.com/article/113354/energy-companies-take-advantage-amish-prohibition-lawsuits