Pa. plan does away with local control of natural gas drilling

    Communities across Pennsylvania would no longer have control over natural gas drilling, under a state House proposal that’s been voted out of committee.

    Ranking committee Democrat Phyllis Mundy calls the impact fee measure the “drill, baby, drill bill.”

    During a hearing Wednesday, she read the part that neuters any drilling regulations imposed by municipalities.

    “Hereby superseded and pre-empted,” she read. “How could you get any more clear than that?”

    Republican Kerry Benninghoff, the committee chairman, said Democrats have been clamoring for industry regulations, so now they can have them.

    But, he said, the rules should be uniform across the state.

    “I think many of you were requiring and requesting through a lot of the hearings that we have better regulation by DEP,” Benninghoff said. “We’re giving them money to do that and trying to give them the authority to do exactly what many of you have requested.”

    Republican Scott Boyd said removing the local regulation option is important if the entire state is going to benefit from natural gas drilling.

    “To allow a local municipality to shut that down simply because three members of an elected board don’t want to allow any drilling in their area, and they can zone it out, trust me – they can zone it out,” he said.

    GOP supporters also say the proposal will ensure the drilling industry doesn’t have to deal with a patchwork of rules that would hinder job creation and profits.

    Benninghoff says pre-empting local ordinances on natural gas drilling could help towns that don’t have the resources to assess drilling potential in their region.

    “It gives the unified standard which we believe can be beneficial to a lot of communities, especially the smaller communities that may not have the resources and the engineering firms and those people that the larger municipalities have,” he said.

    StateImpact Pennsylvania has more details on the proposal.

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