DUBOIS – DuBois City Council member Randy Schmidt was appointed as the city council’s member of the DuBois Reservoir Watershed Management Committee.
The committee’s goal will be to research and give recommendations to the city council concerning Marcellus Shale drilling that could impact the surface and groundwater sources of DuBois. Eight representatives have been named so far:
- Jim Casselberry – Casselberry & Associates, Inc.
- Colleen Shannon – Game Commission
- Mark Stephens – Department of Environmental Protection: Watershed Management
- Fred Berry – Conservation District
- Toni Cherry – Legal advisor, City Solicitor
- Dave Spigelmyer – Gas Well Industries: Chesapeake Energy
- Mark Hartle – Fish & Boat Commission
- Randy Schmidt – City Council
A ninth representative from the Watershed Committee hasn’t been named yet. The group is intended to be small to allow for ease of communication between the members.
“It was a recommendation to have a small task force,” explained City Manager John “Herm” Suplizio.
The DRWMC does not have as one of its goals the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling within the city itself. Asked by citizens about drilling in DuBois, City Solicitor Toni Cherry explained again that the city has no active plans at the moment to impede drilling.
“There are some times when doing nothing is the wisest course,” said Cherry.
She expanded that “nothing” meant she would be doing research which included sitting in on discussions of the DRWMC, communicating with other local communities about what they are planning to do concerning gas drilling and researching communities in north east Pennsylvania where drilling has already been occurring.
Cherry stated that the City is unable to have a complete ban on drilling due to the Municipal Planning Act. There has to be one zoning type where it is allowed or else any ordinance the city drafts would be opening the city up to a lawsuit in her opinion.
The Pennsylvania Gas Act, as explained by Cherry, offers protection for most of the city. The gas act has limitations on how close to a residential property, not zone, drilling can occur. Due to the City’s small size there are residential properties peppering the city creating overlapping circles where drilling cannot occur under Pennsylvania law.
“Don’e we have people living in downtown DuBois, isn’t that commercial? Don’t we have people living off of Maple, isn’t that industrial?,” asked Cherry.