Lehman Township, PA Approves Encana Plan to Begin Drilling This Summer

Encana has gotten a green light from the supervisors in Lehman Township (Luzerne County, PA) to begin drilling this summer. The board approved an ordinance allowing the drilling to begin. According to Township Zoning Board Solicitor Jack Haley, the supervisors had little choice:

According to Haley, all authority to halt drilling operations in any municipality in Pennsylvania lies in the hands of state agencies, not local governments. The township’s rules are “superseded” by the state Oil and Gas Act, he said.

The state Supreme Court already reviewed two similar cases, he added, and decided the only authority Lehman Township has applies to what roads EnCana can use.*

As for the motion/ordinance and what it says about the roads:

[Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Ray] Iwanowski outlined six conditions to the motion: that EnCana put up $13,540 to maintain Firehouse Road through the total time it is used; EnCana put up $32,192 to maintain Peaceful Valley Road similarly; all traffic related to the drilling traverse on Firehouse Road toward state Route 118; no traffic will go on Old Route 115 in the township (near the school); EnCana provide adequate insurance coverage for the township, and that a legally binding agreement be signed by EnCana holding it to its commitment.*

*Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (Apr 14) – Lehman Township says yes to gas drilling