I am writing regarding Kevin Moody's Aug. 16 letter ("Act 13's Rules"). Mr. Moody, vice president and general counsel of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, states several important facts, but he also fails to mention several other critical ones. He states that "compressor stations are permitted uses only in agricultural and industrial districts." Reading this, one would think that residential neighborhoods are totally safe from the noise and permanence of compressor stations. He fails to mention that Act 13 declares that compressor stations are "conditional" uses in residential districts as well. Act 13 completely removes the ability for individual municipalities to create any conditions (as we always have in the past for any conditional commercial use). Act 13 sets the predefined "conditions" and strips the local government of any input whatsoever.
Mr. Moody also conveniently leaves out several other facts. Act 13 provides for no density restrictions on wells. Townships would have no control over how many wells could be drilled in any given neighborhood. Gas companies could potentially set up dozens or even hundreds of wells in a neighborhood and there would be nothing the local government could do to control this. Act 13 also permits "frac ponds," which are open-air wastewater ponds from the drilling process, in all zones, including residential, at only a 300-foot setback. This would be like having a stinking wastewater pit with toxic chemicals potentially 300 feet from one's house.
The bottom line is that it is a fact that Act 13 allows seismic testing, drilling, pipelines, frac ponds and compressor stations in all districts. It is a legal play on words as to whether each is a "permitted" or "conditional" use when the municipalities are forbidden to set any conditions.
I take exception to his final point that a ruling in favor of local control would be "merely a euphemism for no drilling or no fracking." In the township where I am a supervisor, we have an abundance of well drilling and several compressor stations. Our local government has been able to work with the industry while implementing environmental protections needed that are unique to our landscape and character. We certainly are not a "no fracking" township.
Robinson Township Supervisor