Here is a copy of the Jointure’s drilling ordinance. In my opinion it falls far short of what is needed. It represents a minimalist approach that deletes any provision that might possibly trigger litigation and result in the court invalidating that provision. Solicitor Clemons’ strategy is to write a simple ordinance that leaves nothing for an energy company to attack. In so doing, this strategy assumes, the prospective driller will be confined to the limits of the zone designated. Because it’s small and poses certain difficulties, officials hope that drillers will look elsewhere.
The Delaware Riverkeeper will soon be releasing a guidebook that seeks to identify a much broader strategy for protecting the health, safety, and environment of municipalities. Jordan Yeager, the lawyer that argued the Robinson cases before the PA Supreme Court, is crafting this guide with attention to all the negative impacts of shale gas extraction and transport. Thus, it suggests changes in various municipal ordinances, not just zoning of drilling.
Shale gas extraction is large scale heavy industry and requires not only sites for well pads, but also right of ways for collector and transmission pipelines, and sites for massive compressor stations. All of these pose hazards to people, the environment, and quality of life. They have been a major disruption and serious and wide spread health problems have been documented. (See the Ingraffea video)
Residents of communities should ask their Supervisors to incorporate the recommendations of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network into municipal ordinances. The constitutional rights affirmed by the PA Supreme Court allow them to protect their citizens, but only if they are proactive in updating their ordinances properly.