Western PA Township Wins Right to Put Ban on Nov. Ballot

Those opposed to drilling will get a measure to ban shale gas drilling put on the ballot in Peters Township (Washington County, PA) this fall. A judge has just ruled in favor of the Peters Township Marcellus Shale Awareness Group to have the measure put on the election ballot for Nov 8. See this MDN story about the group, their motivation (calling sustainable energy a “right”) and the wording of the ballot measure.

The ruling clears the way for the question to appear on the ballot asking voters if the township’s Home Rule Charter should be amended to include a bill of rights and incorporate a ban on gas drilling within township boundaries.

Members of the Marcellus Shale Awareness group filed a petition in August with more than 2,400 names to have the question go before voters.

The township asked the court for an injunction against placing the question on the ballot, saying it would subject the township to lawsuits from individuals and gas companies. In his arguments, Johnson also argued, that if approved, the township would be a violation of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, as well as causing the township’s drilling ordinance to be nullified.

In his ruling, [Washington County Judge Paul] Pozonsky said the court lacks jurisdiction to rule on pre-election challenges “without an immediate harm caused by the presence of the measure on the ballot.”*

One thing is a certainty: If the ballot measure passes on Nov. 8, the township will face very expensive legal challenges.

*Canon-McMillanPatch (Oct 3, 2011) – Judge Rules Marcellus Shale Question to Be Placed on Election Ballots