New PA Marcellus Law Does What Local Towns Wanted All Along

Pennsylvania recently passed new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations (see this MDN story). One of the loudest objections to its adoption is a provision that state law will now mostly override local zoning ordinances designed to regulate and restrict drilling. The cry went up that Harrisburg does not know better than local municipalities where and how to control drilling in their local areas.

But municipalities are finding out the new law does exactly what they wanted to do locally all along—prevent drilling in more urban and sensitive areas. That’s what Etna, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, has discovered.

Etna PAThe state’s new Marcellus Shale drilling rules provide enough restrictions that most of Etna should be free of gas wells, said Dave Becki, vice president of Etna council.

In comments at council’s Feb. 21 meeting, he cited the law’s limits on the minimum distance that gas wells must be from schools, homes and other structures.

"Based on what I’ve seen, the state’s new shale regulations will not leave many areas in Etna that can have a well," Mr. Becki said.

Last year, Etna council debated drilling restrictions of its own.

A recently passed law overturned several local ordinances across Pennsylvania.

Nonetheless, Mr. Becki sees the new law as producing essentially the same result the proposed Etna rules were designed to produce.*

*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Mar 1, 2012) – Etna to have few wells under new rules, official says