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Local Officials React to Ruling on Marcellus Shale Legislation

Local lawmakers gave their two cents on the issue, while Southpointe-based Range Resources—a Marcellus Shale industry leader—remained mum.

One local lawmaker called —the state’s newly enacted legislation regulating Marcellus Shale drilling—a  “major victory” for residents and local government bodies.

, D-Cecil, was an outspoken opponent of the bill, and he said after the ruling that he hopes the decision to give the power of regulating the zoning aspects of Marcellus Shale drilling back to local government bodies instead of the state will promote “responsible” development of shale play.

"Hopefully we can now stop the bullying and the buying-of-influence and truly work together to develop a responsible approach that will allow development of Marcellus Shale while creating a culture of true accountability and responsibility,” White said in a statement. “(Thursday’s) decision reaffirms that our constitutional protections are not for sale.”

White said the ruling proves that despite $1.3 million spent by the energy industry lobbyists “to write and pass the bill on their own,” the court did the “right thing.”

“The challenge to this law was not a partisan issue, and (Thursday’s) outcome has nothing to do with trying to stifle responsible natural gas development,” he said. “But eliminating local ordinances and replacing them with a ridiculously low standard that could not be strengthened by local elected officials is not the proper way to do business in Pennsylvania and falls dramatically short of the definition of a ‘good neighbor.’”

He continued: “In plain English, Act 13 was about a lack of local accountability and transparency that allowed companies to do virtually anything they wanted without real oversight or concern for existing property owners. It was about maximizing profits, overreaching and greed at the expense of our constitutional rights, and it was just wrong.”

But other local officials said they were “disappointed” in the ruling because it leaves many questions on how the industry will respond, as well as many others.

“Are we back to square one? Does this throw out the window? I hope not,” state Sen. Tim Solobay said. “I don’t know how the industry will respond to this.”

And he said that while Act 13 was not perfect in its final form, it was a “blessing to many communities” that didn’t have zoning regulations or the cash to implement them.

And he criticized municipal officials who said they made the challenge because they had the responsibility to protect its residents.

“I’m just as responsible (as a member of the Legislature),” he said. “That’s (expletive deleted) as far as I’m concerned.”

Then the lawmaker added: “Cecil Township is just looking at one brick. We have to look at the whole wall.”

Solobay, who voted yes on Act 13, also noted that he believed the decision would be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Messages left on the cell phones of Range Resources spokesmen Jim Cannon, Mike Mackin and Matt Pitzarella were not returned.

However, the Marcellus Shale Coalition issued the following statement following the court ruling:

“The premise for the General Assembly's action earlier this year was to provide certainty and predictability that encourages investment and job creation across the Commonwealth. Lack of uniformity has long been an Achilles’ heel for Pennsylvania and must be resolved if the Commonwealth is to remain a leader in responsible American natural gas development and reap the associated economic, environmental and national security benefits.”

For state , D-North Strabane, the court’s ruling was an objective view of the challenges to the law.

“The court doesn’t deal in winners and losers—it interprets the law,” he said. “When the court says something is unconstitutional, you can’t do anything but accept that.”

But Cecil Supervisor Andy Schrader on Thursday still said it felt like a win for local communities, and , called it a “good day” for local government and the state of Pennsylvania.

White added that he plans to meet with members of his , to explore the feasibility of drafting a model ordinance that would allow for “uniformity and consistency while fostering a true environment of responsibility and accountability.”

He said he will extend the offer to participate in the meeting to surrounding municipalities, as well.

Gene August 01, 2012 at 09:00 AM
Jane, I want to believe you but now you're sounding like an anti-drilling plant on this site rather than an aggrieved land owner. Corbett wasn't even in office when the allegations of water contamination by methane migration occurred in Dimock. It was Rendell and Hanger running the state and DEP. The majority of landowners in Dimock refute the claims of the few that allege water problems. As Billy mentioned, the EPA's testing supports the DEP's and other independent testing. As far as I know the EPA is not a friend of the oil and gas industry. Are they being paid off too?
Roger August 01, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Gene, I agree with your assessment about being a plant. The posts have all the marks of a troll. The rambling, misspellings, poor grammar, etc. do not make the contents believable or valuable. I'm doubting the poster even lives in this area (missing the 'h' on Pittsburgh is a big clue).
Victoria Adams August 01, 2012 at 12:29 PM
So someone who leaves the letter 'h' off of Pittsburgh gets bashed for a lack of authenticity, but anonymous bullies without the guts to use their real names are supposed to be listened to without question? Does that make sense, proud american state senator Tim Solobay?
cecil resident August 01, 2012 at 02:08 PM
This is unbeliveable I have been called a mole,plant, anonymous bully, not having the guts to provide my name by my local representative, even that I am Senator Tim Solobay under cover. Why because I have a different belief. With all of my debates I have never accused anyone of the things I have been accused of. All I have done is post what I believe in and I believe that the gas and oil Industry is needed for our great country to survive, this country was built on this industry along with our other resources. I am so tired of relying on countries who's methods of drilling are so much more risky then ours and don't have the regulations that ours have in this country. Regardless of what I am called or whoever you think I am it won't change the fact that I am a life long resident of Cecil Township, in the State of Pennsylvania have who has never been in politics don't have any connections with the oil and gas industry (don't even have a lease yet) and wouldn't have a problem posting my name but you can see the hate that comes out in simple debate. I respect you and your beliefs even though I don't agree with them and ask that you do the same.
Amanda Gillooly August 01, 2012 at 02:18 PM
This thread has gotten off the subject - and has devolved into name calling. For this reason, I am shutting off the comments. If you would like to speak with me call me at 724-510-5659 or email me at amanda.gillooly@patch.com.

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