Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Permits? We don't need no stinking permits!

So. Say you're a municipality in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And say you like to run things on the up-and-up, and maybe have one of those "PERMITS REQUIRED" signs hanging at the city limits. That means that companies can't just come to town and do what they want, when they want to...does it?

Gas drilling company sues Damascus Township over cease and desist order - News - The Times-Tribune
A natural gas drilling company has filed a federal lawsuit against Damascus Twp. in Wayne County, just days after township officials issued a "cease-and-desist" work order on one of the company's exploratory wells because it didn't obtain a permit.

The suit, filed July 6 by a subsidiary of Houston-based Newfield Exploration Co., claims that on July 2 township officials "took administrative action to stop the drilling project" by issuing a stop-work order. It further states the township does not have any regulatory authority to do so through its zoning ordinance.

The suit alleges that state law, in particular the state Oil and Gas Act, which is enforced by the state Department of Environmental Protection, supercedes all local authority to regulate or require any special provisions upon natural gas exploration and development.
The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act is a very controversial little law which was allegedly authored in large part by the oil and gas industries themselves. Many municipalities have been finding out about it the hard way - by discovering that, when it comes to oil and gas drilling, they really have no say in the matter. And with Pennsylvania pinning much of its hope for fiscal solvency on revenues from oil and gas drilling, just how likely is it that the state will do anything that might hamper drilling?

SIDE NOTE: Over the last decade or so I have been noticing a gradual increase in large birds-of-prey in this area. including some that are endangered or protected. Last week I saw a bald eagle circling over River Street in Plains (or possibly Wyoming), and earlier this week I saw what appeared to be a roadkill bald eagle on the highway near Olyphant. I believe it is a violation of federal law to interfere with or disturb the nesting sites of these birds, as some locals found out in an incident involving a peregrine falcon a few years ago. Are environmental impact studies being done for each gas well being drilled, particularly with an eye to how the noise and light pollution (as well as potential chemical pollution) will affect federally protected wildlife?

1 comment:

betz said...

har, did i not send you an e-mail saying that i have been seeing eagles of late?
hmmm, i wonder what is in the wind my friend?