Western PA Township Makes a Run at Banning Marcellus Shale Drilling Using Noise Ordinance

Administrators of North Huntingdon Township, PA (Westmoreland County), are attempting to control drilling in the Marcellus Shale within their borders. They acknowledge that Pennsylvania state courts have already ruled local municipalities cannot outright ban drilling, so the North Huntingdon planning commission is attempting to place restrictions that would greatly curtail drilling in the Township. The current draft regulations—yet to be voted on—focus on noise:

The draft assumes normal noise levels in a neighborhood at 55 decibels, unless well operators provide documentation of a higher level. Township officials would require a noise mitigation plan if well operators exceed it by 7 decibels during daytime hours, 5 decibels during nighttime hours or 10 decibels during the process known as “fracking” to extract natural gas.

North Huntingdon also is proposing to prohibit drilling on residential properties zoned R-1 or R-1A, two of its five types of residential districts.

Township officials also want to require well operators to conduct an inventory of road conditions and submit a road restoration plan because they anticipate damage to township roads.*

Interestingly, at the end of the same article, we get this closing paragraph:

Also Monday, the planning commission recommended conditional approval of a site plan for a 5,746-square-foot Sheetz convenience store near the intersection of Route 30 and Ronda Court, a private road that will lead to a new Wal-Mart.*

MDN wonders: When the new Sheetz and the new Wal-Mart are built, will construction noise levels in those neighborhoods exceed 65 decibels during the daytime? And if so, will the construction companies be required to erect temporary barriers to mitigate that noise?

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Mar 9) – Proposed rules on well drilling to focus on noise