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ACTION: Tell Phila City Council to Vote YES this Thurs. on Resolution Opposing Act 13

September 25, 2012

Pittsburgh did it. At least sixty-five other municipalities have done it. It’s time for Philadelphia to do it! On Thursday morning, September 27th, Philadelphia City Council will vote on a Resolution opposing the part of Pennsylvania’s Act 13 which strips all municipalities, statewide, of their ability to protect the health and safety of their residents by passing bans, moratoria, or even the most moderate zoning restrictions on any aspect of heavy industrial shale gas drilling.

The fracking industry and its friends wrote that law. As the result of a lawsuit which Thursday’s Resolution explicitly supports, the PA Commonwealth Court struck it down as unconstitutional and unenforceable! But Governor Corbett has appealed that ruling, so we need all the political will we can muster right now to make it obvious that the people of Pennsylvania, including the people of Philadelphia, will not stand to be bossed around by this toxic industry.

Action: Call your City Councilmember if you live in Philadelphia; call At-Large Councilmembers if you live outside Phila.

Demand: Urge a “YES” vote on the Resolution opposing Act 13. Briefly assert the importance of protecting our health, our safety, our democratic rights, and our children’s future.

ID it accurately: Resolution Number 120740, introduced September 20th, 2012 by Curtis Jones

When: Make all your calls today and tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday September 25th and 26th; 9-5 is best.

What else:  Call each co-sponsor of the bill to thank them! That’s Councilman Curtis Jones, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown, and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. Especially at a time when the Marcellus Shale Coalition is spending millions to try to use a concerted disinformation campaign to turn back the tide of anti-fracking public opinion in Philadelphia, we appreciate these Councilmembers standing up and doing the right thing.

To testify in person: You need to sign up with the Chief Clerk, (215) 686-3410 or 3411. Arrive at City Hall at 10 AM latest — better 9:45 AM — on Thursday September 27th with your photo ID. Pointers:

* Keep it brief! Practice and make sure your testimony is under two minutes.

* Inform yourself about Act 13 specifically; show smart support for opposing this anti-democratic, toxic law. Use the “search” feature of this blog, and read the text of the Resolution below, to prepare yourself. Thanks!

Why is it so important for Philadelphia to go on record opposing Act 13 and explicitly supporting the lawsuit against it?

1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, hasn’t yet said a peep about Act 13. This Resolution to Oppose Act 13 is its first peep,  and by passing it with strong support we make a clear statement that Philadelphia stands in solidarity with all the municipalities in directly impacted areas, while affirming Philadelphia’s right to protect its residents from toxic waste, downstream impacts, polluting processing facilities, and other aspects of shale gas drilling.

2. In the aftermath of Shale Gas Outrage, which brought an estimated 1400 – 2000 participants out (crowd-counters counted 1400 people at one moment of the rally; hundreds also participated in associated events over the two-day period) to Philadelphia, an immediate political victory will help our activists understand the power of organizing and mobilizing.

3. Some Philadelphia area legislators voted the wrong way on Act 13. From Democratic Senator Anthony Williams to Republican Chuck McIlhinney, these legislators thought they could sell all the municipalities in the state down the river, stripping them of their rights, and not feel any political heat in response. Passing this Resolution to Oppose Act 13 sends a clear signal that we are paying attention, and that the heat is still heating up.

You can also tell your state legislators: Stop selling us down the river, stop setting us up for foul air and accelerated climate change, and stop selling us short by betraying our democratic rights! Overturn Act 13!

The actual text of Resolution Number 120740, sponsored by Councilman Curtis Jones, is here:

RESOLUTION

Supporting the Commonwealth Court decision which found Act 13 unconstitutional because it removes from local governments the ability to meaningfully legislate in a manner that protects the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens by addressing localized concerns to oil and gas development and violates both the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions, creating a zoning scheme that supersedes the protections local officials are sworn to uphold; as well as the health, safety and welfare of its residents that local officials must protect.

WHEREAS, The Commonwealth Court struck down as unconstitutional a key provision of Act 13 which would have forced local jurisdictions to exempt from its zoning regulations any projects undertaken by the Oil and Gas industry including, but not limited to drilling using hydrofracking; and

WHEREAS, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has now appealed the court ruling of the case brought by the Townships of Robinson, Nockamixon, South Fayette, Peters, Cecil, Mount Pleasant, the Borough of Yardley and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Amici Curiae: The Townships of East Finley, Tinicum, and Wilkins, the Borough of Bell Acres and the Municipalities of Bethlehem; and

WHEREAS, On February 14, 2012, the Pennsylvania General Assembly enacted Act 13 to require municipalities to allow oil and gas operations except for processing plants in all zoning districts, and consequently infringing upon the rights of local governments throughout the Commonwealth to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens; and

WHEREAS, Any local ordinance that regulates oil and gas operations is subject to Act 13’s sweeping restrictions, as well as its serious threat of litigation and attorneys’ fees; and City of Philadelphia

WHEREAS, Act 13 removes all meaningful zoning and planning authority from local governments as to the Oil & Gas industry, while all other entities, be they individual, corporate, or institutional, still must abide by local ordinances; and

WHEREAS, Act 13 does not account for the profound differences in the character, landscape, resources, economy, and government of Pennsylvania’s municipalities; and

WHEREAS, In May 2007, the voters of Philadelphia overwhelmingly approved the creation of a Zoning Code Commission to reform and modernize Philadelphia’s outdated and complex zoning code. The City Council of Philadelphia recently enacted the recommendations of the Commission in order to provide and a more easily understandable code, that improved the City’s planning process, promoted positive development yet preserved the character of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, The City Council of Philadelphia filed an Amicus brief in support of another lawsuit concerning the dangers of hydrofracking to the City’s water safety; now therefore

RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That it hereby supports the Commonwealth Court decision which found Act 13 unconstitutional because it removes from local governments the ability to meaningfully legislate in a manner that protects the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens by addressing localized concerns to oil and gas development and violates both the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions, creating a zoning scheme that supersedes the protections local officials are sworn to uphold; as well as the health, safety and welfare of its residents that local officials must protect.

2 Comments
  1. Sandra Folzer permalink
    September 26, 2012 10:18 am

    Keeping our water clean is essential to good health.
    We must keep gas drillers at bay for they will do whatever they like despite
    dire consequences just to make money.

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  1. It’s Unanimous: Philadelphia Opposes Act 13, Affirms Law is Unconstitutional « Protecting Our Waters

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