DUBOIS – People concerned about the impact of Marcellus shale participated in the Monday City Council of DuBois meeting. City Solicitor Toni Cherry explained that municipalities are unable to allow with restrictions the drilling of gas.
There were no public comments from the public in favor for gas drilling at the meeting. Worries were stated for fear of drilling’s impact on the local water sources, the explosive danger of methane gas leakage and of the harm done to other communities by Marcellus shale drilling.
“I need to let the council, and you as citizens of DuBois, know that there are limitations that we have as a council to regulate anything,” said Cherry.
“There are things the council needs to think about, the limitations, before sending me to draft an ordinance that won’t hold up [to court],” said Cherry.
According to Cherry, the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act of 1992 changed the law in regards to oil and gas drilling. Before this act gas and oil were separate from mineral rights.
The Oil and Gas Act also, with some few exemptions, supersedes any law created by municipalities in Pennsylvania. This effectively limits the City of DuBois to allow or ban drilling by zoning. Any proximity to buildings allowed or disallowed is outlined on the state level. DuBois could ban drilling in the city limits and on its property, but due to the nature of this drilling type a neighboring township or landowner could sell their rights. The drillers then could mine the gas under DuBois.
“As noble as I think the cause [to regulate drilling] is, the Supreme Court said no. So we aren’t going to do it,” said Cherry.
Cherry stated several times she would not allow the DuBois City Council to waste tax payer money to create an ordinance the city would have to defend, and in her eyes lose, a court case over.
People wanting to see regulations of Marcellus Shale drilling would have to contact their state representatives.