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Write, Call, Rally: Six Rallies to Stop PA “Impact Fee” Bill that Strips Municipalities’ Right to Limit or Ban Gas Drilling

December 10, 2011
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The Pennsylvania House and Senate are rapidly reconciling, and moving towards a new vote on, SB1100 / HB1950, the most important anti-environmental and anti-democratic legislation in recent times. The legislation removes municipalities’ ability to limit gas drilling. It represents a major attack on the environment, making it even easier for drilling companies to pollute the Commonwealth and hurt public health.  As WHYY’s Scott Detrow reports, local officials in southwestern PA, “disturbed” by this crackdown on local governments, are holding a town hall meeting in Allegheny County on Tuesday evening to voice their opposition. Statewide, all the major environmental groups stand united in opposition to the bill, organizing six rallies in southeastern PA on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Dec. 12 – 14th (all details below).

Specifically, these are the gifts PA legislators plan to give to the fracking industry with SB 1100 / HB 1950:

  1. Strip away municipal protections: The legislation prevents communities from protecting themselves from gas drilling by passing and enforcing local ordinances and zoning.
  2. Move environmental protections backward: The legislation rolls back existing protections and doesn’t go far enough with new protections like setbacks (a setback is the distance between gas drilling operations and homes, streams, etc.).
  3. Impact fee is tiny: It’s an insignificant amount that doesn’t address serious environmental and public health problems from drilling.
Each body’s version of the bill is fatally flawed, so any reconciled bill will be devastating to Pennsylvania. Don’t be fooled by claims that amendments have made these bills palatable: they have not. We must prevent these bills from becoming law. Protecting Our Waters stands with Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Forest Coalition, PennEnvironment, PennFuture, Sierra Club and all the other local and statewide groups working furiously to stop SB 1100 / HB 1950.
Senate Republicans in southeast PA are key pressure points we may be able to influence. They voted FOR SB 1100 and HB 1950 in the first round, despite the fact that their constituents care about the environment. Our coalition is holding rallies outside six Senators’ offices on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday December 12th, 13th, and 14th in an effort to change the way they vote.
Please call your PA State Senator and Representative, even if you’ve called them before, to urge a “no” vote (find your legislator’s contact information at http://www.seventy.org). And please attend one of the rallies listed below, or organize your own rally outside the office of any legislator who voted “yes” on the first round of SB 1100/ HB 1950!  Let them know that any legislator who undermines democracy and sells Pennsylvanians down the river when it comes to pollution will be voted out fast.
Here are the dates, times, and locations for each rally to influence Republican Senators in southeastern PA:
Monday December 12th:
  • Sen Pileggi, 9th Dist.: Mon., 11:30, 100 Evergreen Drive, Suite 113, Glen Mills, PA 19342
    (Contact Anne @ PennFuture)
  • Sen Tomlinson, 6th Dist.: Mon., 12:30, 3207 Street Road, Bensalem, PA  19020
    (Contact  Tracy @ Delaware Riverkeeper Network)
Tuesday December 13th at 12 noon:
  • Sen Greenleaf, 12th Dist.: Tues.: Noon, 711 North York Road, Willow Grove, PA 19090
    (Contact Adam @ PennEnvironment)
Wednesday December 14th at noon, 3, and 4 pm:
  • Sen McIlhinney, 10th Dist.: Wed.: Noon, 22 South Main St., Doylestown, PA 18901
    (Contact Adam @ PennEnvironment)
  • Sen Erickson, 26th Dist.: Wed., 3 PM, 5037 Township Line Rd., Drexel Hill, PA 19026
    (Contact Andrew @ Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania)
  • Sen Rafferty, 44th Dist.: Wed. 4:30 PM, 3818 Germantown Pike, Collegeville. PA 19426
    (Contact Jeff @ Sierra Club)
In closing, here’s an excerpt capturing the solid opposition to this bill from elected officials in some of the towns most impacted by gas drilling in southwestern PA, as reported by WHYY’s Scott Detrow on StateImpact:
Both pieces of leg­is­la­tion, which passed the House and Sen­ate last month, crack down on local gov­ern­ments’ abil­ity to zone and reg­u­late nat­ural gas drilling.  If either mea­sure becomes law, munic­i­pal­i­ties would not have the power to bar hydraulic frac­tur­ing in res­i­den­tial zones, among other restric­tions. (Click here to read the full scope of the two mea­sures’ restric­tions.)

Richard Ward, the town­ship man­ager in Robin­son, said the lim­i­ta­tions are “dis­turb­ing.”  He’s orga­niz­ing the town hall-style meet­ing, which will be held Tues­day night at the Green­tree Bor­ough Munic­i­pal Build­ing, in Allegheny County.

“The goal is to show a uni­fied stand against the pre­emp­tion lan­guage,” he said… This is to show a uni­fied stance on the sep­a­ra­tion of local gov­ern­ment from state gov­ern­ment rule.”

Both bills “take away from the abil­ity of local munic­i­pal­i­ties to main­tain zon­ing and land reg­u­la­tions,” he added.

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