Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Quality Air and Water Monitoring with Sustainable Monroeville on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Public Library

Hello, Everyone!

June’s meeting of Sustainable Monroeville is just around the corner, this next Monday, June 4th at 7:00 pm, at the Monroeville Public Library (Program Room). As a continuation of educating the public on air and water quality monitoring, we will present the basics of current monitoring, as well as how to participate in monitoring Plum Creek, which connects our communities. It’s what we can do and what we should do here. Lois Drumheller will cover that information.  We will essentially join efforts with our friends in Oakmont, PA. We’ll have specific dates for this proposed training. Also, Theresa Wright will update us on PA-DEP seismic testing conducted in areas we may not have known about in Monroeville.

Looking forward to seeing you then!
Thank You, Lois
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June 4, 2018

I credit the very excellent LAWPA Google E-mail Group for this information, which has held discussion after the majority and dissenting opinions of the PA Supreme Court decided toreversethe decisions of the lower courts (that’s good) on Gorsline -v- Fairfield Twp. Thanks goes to Debbie Borowiec for continuing to manage the LAWPA group. 

LAWPA folks are awaiting more expert legal opinions as to how to interpret this Gorsline decision. However from what was read and discussed, there are a few reasons that we Pennsylvanians should NOT get excited about, as we are not out of the water unless we have well-written ordinances as to where and how to conduct oil and gas operations. 

The REAL question begged to be addressed by the Supremes was how PA recognize and apply rulings on oil and gas operations,based on the PA Constitution, Article I, Section 27, also know as the Environmental Rights Amendment. Instead, the Supreme Court seemed to base their decision to reverse the lower courts in keeping oil and gas operations in industrial zones BY ACCORDANCE OF LOCAL ZONING ORDINANCES.

Also mentioned are a “large number of Amici" filedin support of the industrybelow. We need to remember that people like Rich Fitzgerald tried to push the scale on behalf of the O&G industry. These people who filed amici are either out of touch like the Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, or they are somehow convinced by leaders of their union (I feel not members, so much) that this damnable industry is GOOD for job security. Debbie's question - “Did this influence the judges’ decision?” is a good one. 

By the way, as a member of Council in 2012, I got Monroeville to join an amicus brief (friend of the court) insupportof the landmark decision on Robinson Township! Then, Monroeville was supportive of the challenge to portions of HR 1950, what would become Act 13, the law that allowed this industry to ruin our state!

I say to you, the ONLY way we can assure the safety and welfare of fracking for Monroeville is for Monroeville to enact a proper Oil and Gas Zoning Ordinance. We have the template of a half-way decent ordinance, and supplemental components from other Borough Govt that would enable easy passage of a zoning ordinance oil in the M-2 Industrial Zoning District. 


Thank you,
412.374.0870-412.736.1765 (m)

Hope has two daughters, anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. St. Augustine

(from Debbie Borowiec, who manages the LAWPA e-mail group, here is what stands out:

1) The PA SC (unfortunately) didNOTrule more broadly on the PA Constitution and the Environmental Rights Amendment as we had hoped. They stuck to a very narrow ruling.

Page 12:
  We address the final three issues raised by Objectors, which are interrelated and, we conclude, dispositive of this case. Because we may decide this case on non- constitutional grounds, we decline to decide Objectors’ first issue, relating to this Court’s decision in Robinson I based on a claimed violation of substantive due process rights and the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution (Article I, Section 27). See Blake v. State Civil Serv. Comm’n, 166 A.3d 292, 297 (Pa. 2017)(recognizing that constitutional questions should not be decided if the case can be resolved on alternative, non-constitutional grounds).

2) There were a large number of Amici filed in support of the industry. (Did this influence the judges' decision?)

Page 14:
  Amicus briefs in support of the Board and Inflection were filed by: (1) Robinson Township, Washington Township, and Mount Pleasant Township; (2) the County of Beaver, the County of Allegheny, and Rich Fitzgerald; (3) Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors; (4) the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, (5) the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 66 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Locals 5, 81, 163, 712 and 812 (“Union Amici”); (6) Laborers’ District Council of Western Pennsylvania; (7) the Marcellus Shale Coalition; (8) the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association; and (9) the American Petroleum Institute. 

3) The decision seems to say that fracking can be allowed in ALL zones, IF the local zoning ordinance has been amended PRIOR to the fracking being approved, and if local requirements are met. 

Pages 23-24:
Applying our standard of review, we hold that the Board’s conclusion that Inflection satisfied its burden of proving that its proposed use was similar to a permitted use in an R-A district is not supported by the record. In so ruling, this decision should not be misconstrued as an indication that oil and gas development is never permitted in residential/agricultural districts, or that it is fundamentally incompatible with residential or agricultural uses. As the Dissent fairly acknowledges, in Robinson I a plurality of this Court recognized that the protection of environmental values is a “quintessential local issue that must be tailored to local conditions.”Dissenting Op. at 10 n.6 (quoting Robinson I, 83 A.3d at 979).

 To this end,the Municipalities Planning Code permits the governing body of a municipality to amend its zoning ordinances to permit oil and gas development in any or all of its zoning districts. 53 P.S. § 10601. The governing body must, however, actually amend its zoning ordinances to permit drilling in designated areas, setting forth whatever limitations and conditions it decides are appropriate for the protection of its citizenry. What a governing body may not do, however, and what the Fairfield Township Board of Supervisors did in this case, is to permit oil and gas development in residential/agricultural districts without first enacting the necessary amendments, based upon a clearly inadequate evidentiary record and no meaningful interpretative analysis of the language of its existing zoning laws.

The opinions are linked below and also attached.

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