Voters in three Pennsylvania communities will decide whether or not to allow drilling in the Marcellus Shale. The referendums are the first time any Pennsylvania voters will weigh in directly on the controversial gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It may also be the first time in the country, that voters get an up or down vote on energy development. Fracking uses high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to mine natural gas.
Other communities, such as Pittsburgh, have passed anti-fracking measures through their city council. But this new strategy by these home rule communities is meant to hold up better to any court challenges.
For communities experiencing the drilling boom, county and local-level officials do not have much authority to regulate drilling. Peter Buckland lives in State College and helped organize the borough’s referendum.