To drill or not to drill – In Pennsylvania, the answer is to drill. In fact, despite controversy, Pennsylvania court has struck down a provision of the state law that stops municipalities from controlling where natural gas companies can and can not drill.
According to CNN, in a 4-3 decision, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court found that a portion of the state’s Act 13 – gas law revisions were passed in February – would require approval for drilling in all zoning district, including limited residential areas.
Jordan Yaeger, an attorney in the case, said Act 13 “was unprecedented regulation. It was a complete overreach.” Yaeger represented the township of Nockamixon and the Borough of Yardley, both in Bucks County near Philadelphia – The two municipalities were among the seven municipalities that filed the petition.
Yaeger said, the ruling is “a great victory.”
The municipalities sit on top of large Marcellus Shale rock formations, one of the largest natural gas deposits in the nation. In order to reach the natural gas, drilling companies undergo a process called hydraulic fracturing. The process releases the natural gas from the ground and into wells. The natural gas is then stored and used in manufacturing facilities and some fleet vehicles.
Hydraulic fracturing is controversial process, but mostly misunderstood. In order to extract natural gas, large amounts of water are mixed with sand and chemicals deep within the ground to fracture the shale rock formations. Once the rock is fractured the sand holds the fractures open while the natural gas is released into the wells.
Yaeger said giving the municipalities the right to have oversight on where companies can drill will help protect communities.