RDA: Scarnati Marcellus Tax ‘Poison Pill for PA Residents’

From the Responsible Drilling Alliance newsletter:

Senate Bill is a poison pill for PA Residents

Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph “Super Bowl”** Scarnati, along with Lycoming County’s Senator Eugene Yaw, among others, have introduced a bill entitled “An Act Amending Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes”. This legislation, SB 1100, imposes a natural gas impact fee tied to a statewide zoning ordinance.

This bill is truly a poison pill, asking PA residents to trade their democratic right to local zoning for a portion of monies collected from gas companies as a part of an impact fee.  SB1100:

  • Allows oil and gas development in all but residential districts
  • Allows compressor stations in agricultural, industrial and commercial districts, and as a conditional use in other districts
  • Allows natural gas processing plants in industrial districts and as a conditional use or special exception in agricultural districts

According to the bill, any municipality that dares to pass “more stringent standards” would be disqualified from receiving Impact Fee dollars. In other words, if we don’t swallow the Poison Pill, we repair our bridges and roads, provide additional law enforcement, equip emergency responders, expand educational systems, meet increased social service demands, and more – all without any financial help from the state.

Statewide zoning laws (dubbed the “model ordinance” by SB1100) would have a chilling effect. Cash-strapped townships, boroughs and other municipalities would be unable to protect public water supplies and valuable natural resources, prohibit drilling in floodplains, prohibit water withdrawal sites in residential neighborhoods, require setbacks for gathering pipelines or adopt setbacks for wells from features not mentioned in the Oil and Gas Act. The presence of any “more stringent” standards in a local ordinance could render the municipality ineligible for impact fee revenue.

The merits of an impact fee are well worth discussing, but SB1100’s model ordinance provision makes it the gas industry’s dream-come-true.

A decent model ordinance that serves as a baseline protection would be welcome, but only if municipalities were allowed to strengthen it, in ways courts have allowed, and not bribed into not going beyond it. The imposition of a “one size fits all” ordinance would undermine the central purpose of local ordinances: to address the particular needs and concerns of municipalities—which vary greatly with regard to natural resources, population location and density, commercial sectors, and other aspects.

Local decision-making is an integral characteristic of a democratic society. The right of Pennsylvania’s citizens to have input on the laws and practices that affect them most, and of municipal officials to fully represent their constituents, must be upheld.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings have made it clear that the state Oil and Gas Act gives municipalities the right to use their zoning code to restrict the location of gas wells in their communities—in the same manner that all such activity is regulated through local zoning. RDA opposes any legislation that takes away municipal zoning rights and/or punishes those communities that choose to exercise their rights.

The vote is pending! Please contact your State Senator and tell him/her you oppose SB1100 before it slips into law.
Lycoming County residents contact the bill’s co-sponsor, 23rd District Senator Eugene Yaw at: gyaw@pasen.gov (570)322-6457  or (717)772-0575

Contact information for other PA Senators available via your zip code. See upper right-hand corner: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/

** Senator Scarnatti earned his nickname after accepting the gas industry’s offer of a free trip to the 2011 Superbowl.

EPIC NO FRACK EVENT

Saturday, June 25th – 8:00 am – 11:00 pm at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY

Impressive line-up of nationally known speakers, movies, music

Free admission

Details at: http://www.allfrackedup.com/epic.html

 


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