On gas drilling, local officials deserve control

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I am writing in response to "Pennsylvania Agency Urges Pittsburgh-Area Officials to Clarify Shale Drilling Rules" (Sept. 6). It is troubling to know that Pennsylvania municipalities must combat state laws to protect themselves and their citizens from the effects of gas drilling.

With the passage of Act 13 earlier this year, localities have faced significantly more barriers to creating environmental protections in regard to gas drilling. The Public Utility Commission has been tasked with judging if local drilling rules fall in line with the state law's parameters. Considering that the state law forces local governments to allow drilling in residential and agricultural zones in most cases, this law becomes even more troubling.

Local officials understand their regional concerns better than distant state officials. These individuals can see the direct effects of gas drilling on their communities and environment. For example, in Bradford County, North Towanda's floodplain drilling regulations have been superseded by state regulations. North Towanda residents can understand their own floodplains and region better than a distant state ruling.

The power to decide where and when gas drilling occurs in a town, if at all, must be placed with local officials who better understand the needs of their municipalities. Already, approximately 70 local government units have passed resolutions affirming their support of local control. In advance of the state Supreme Court hearing on the Act 13 zoning provisions on Oct. 17, I urge municipalities across Pennsylvania to continue to pass resolutions to show their support of local control over gas drilling.

MARY KATE RANII
O'Hara


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