Political Powder Kegs For Pennsylvania's Other Sixty-Five Counties
A 6-year unconventional gas drilling moratorium in the little-known South Newark Basin... Few saw it coming. Iris Bloom did. She immediately mobilized Protecting Our Waters and its allies to help stop the measure which was slipped into the Pennsylvania Fiscal Code Bill, HB1263, in the eleventh hour. Laura Olsen reports on Sen. Chuck McIlhinney's [R-10th, Bucks] successful, powder-keg provision in Oil and Gas Permits on Hold in Southeastern Pennsylvania in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Bloom’s email alert, sent early Saturday afternoon, was the first many had heard of this extraordinary measure. It was extraordinary because McIllhinney is the among the self-same legislators who, only four months ago, crammed The Marcellus Shale Act down the Commonwealth’s collective throat - all in the name of “consistency” and “uniformity.” Now, McIllhinney is seeking exemption from the very zoning restrictions he would impose on the rest of Pennsylvania.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Newark Basin (I was), Sarah Larson includes a map in her coverage the polemic amendment, which was approved by a 124-74 vote, in Legislators Pass Moratorium on Gas Drilling in Bucks-Montco on Doylestown.Patch.com.
“What about our Impact Study? What about our six years?" Rep. Jesse White [D-46th] asked on the PA State House floor on Saturday, June 30, 2012. White hails from the “already drilled out Washington County.”
“Shady,” White calls the provision. I call it hypocritical.
You can read Rep. White's recent post, Selective Drilling Ban Exposes Hypocrisy in PA Energy Policy on Canon-McMillain.Patch.com or watch his explosive speach on the PA House Floor on YouTube.
Conservation Zones, Not Sacrifice Zones
The vote has stirred angry foment among pro- and anti-drilling voices. Seems the Corbett administration has clear a policy of dealing with the urban elites and political moderates who populate Southeastern PA, it's called: What you can't see won't hurt you.
It's not only DEP Sec. Krancer and Lt. Governor Cawley who call Southeastern Pennsylvania home, it's "decision-makers" across all industries. It's investment guys, media moguls and water barons... not to mention millions of regular people. As long as they keep drilling out of THEIR backyard, anything goes. It’s my backyard, too, and I’d otherwise be glad of any moratorium on gas drilling, but I think ALL Pennsylvanians deserve similar and adequate protection.
Identifying a “Conservation District” (or a Zoning Zone, as I’ve come to think of it) lends a whole new slant to mapping the “Sacrifice Zone.” Is it comprised of whatever counties are left? And what would McIllhinney consider a sufficient Impact Study?
Berks Gas Truth condemned the provision in a statement on its website, BGT’s Statement on Exemption Granted to Bucks and Montgomery. Delving deeper, Dory Hippauf breaks down the details of this latest diss to democracy in Krancer Cawley Exemption Bill.
Read more about the new moratorium in PA Lawmakers Approve Gas Drilling Moratorium for Bucks and Montco by Christina Kristofic in Phillyburbs.com and Pa. House OKs Drilling Moratorium for SE Pa. Basin from The Associated Press.