Local officials, business leaders at odds over Pa. control of natural gas industry

    Local government groups have criticized a Pennsylvania House proposal to allow state-imposed natural gas drilling regulations trump local ordinances.

    One business advocate, however, says the alternative is a regulatory patchwork.

    Dave Patti, president of the Pennsylvania Business Council, said there’s no reason to allow local ordinances regulate any one industry.

    He said the House plan would keep the regulations on drilling from becoming cumbersome and unmanageable because of inconsistency across the state.

    “The idea that municipalities should be able to set their own common-sense rules, local rules for drilling, becomes problematic when you start saying, and where does it end?” said Patti. “Do we have different driving rules municipality by municipality?”

    Representatives for the state’s townships and boroughs aren’t keen on the bill, which would also impose an impact fee assessed and collected by individual counties.

    A spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs said if patchwork were the chief concern, the impact fee would be assessed at the state level.

    “We want this development, we want this growth, but we need it to be done in a cooperative fashion with the industry,” said Ed Troxell, a spokesman for the association. “And something … at the commonwealth level, I think, can remove that ability for the local folks to be able to work with the gas industry.”

    Gov. Tom Corbett supports the measure, which next goes before the state House for consideration.

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