Westmoreland Town Votes to Overturn Restrictive Shale Ordinance

Elections have consequences, including local elections. Here’s a story that caught our eye because it’s so unusual (“man bites dog” type of story). Donegal Township in Westmoreland County (southwestern PA) is a rural township: population 2,465 people living in 42 square miles. There was some Marcellus well drilling in the town several years ago, but after WPX plugged wells in the town (see WPX Plugging 9 Wells in Westmoreland County, PA), we find no actively producing wells nor any permits to drill new wells, according to the forthcoming Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac 2018 (due out later this week!). Even so, most residents support more Marcellus development. We base that on this observation: A previous town board passed a restrictive zoning ordinance, aimed at blocking shale drilling. Donegal had no zoning ordinance of any kind before the board passed one (last year? year before?). Opponents to the ordinance got themselves elected to the board last November and last Tuesday night voted 4-1 to repeal the zoning ordinance put there by the previous board. According to one of the new board members, tossing out the zoning ordinance “will be helpful to the residents because they’ll have more freedom.” What a breath of fresh air!…

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