“Drilling...It’s just the beginning,” is a saying that appears on billboards for Range Resources, and it makes me pause and ponder some things.
If the zoning provisions of Act 13 are allowed to stand and drilling is just the beginning, what will follow? Fertilizer plants? Act 13 allows industries to be located in any zoned area of a community. This is exactly what happened recently in Texas, where, tragically, homes and lives were lost when a fertilizer plant exploded. The plant was located in a residential area even though it was an industrial facility.
Local zoning is supposed to keep industrial operations in areas zoned for industrial use. But Act 13 takes away a community’s right to zone properly. This law favors industry, namely oil and gas, not landowners. Industry wants all its operations nearby – drilling rigs, flammable chemical storage, wastewater and frack impoundments, compressor stations and more.
Robinson Township, under its current board, along with Cecil, Mt. Pleasant and Peters townships and other communities in Pennsylvania, has been a part of the challenge to the zoning provisions of Act 13. The challenge, now in the hands of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, is based on the desire of these communities to continue to have the right to zone as they see fit. Without this ability, dangerous industries with the potential to cause serious harm would be permitted next to residential dwellings.
And yes, drilling is at the top of a list of other industries which could come asking for special treatment like the oil and gas industry is asking for in Act 13. This law could open the door for all industrial-type operations to locate in areas where they had been previously forbidden.