Tuesday, August 07, 2012

About 250 localities have tried to limit drilling's reach, worrying industry and some state officials

Many local officials in rural communities are not opposed to natural-gas drilling, but they are opposed to drilling close to homes, schools or hospitals. Citizens are increasingly turning to their city and town governments to help fight encroachment of drilling rigs when they feel state regulations aren't strict enough to control the drilling close to their towns. Jim Malewitz of Stateline reports the trend is "worrying" industry representatives and state officials who want to expand the "industry's reach."

At least 246 cities or towns in 15 states have passed laws restricting drilling on local land, according to Food and Water Watch, an environmental group. Malewitz reports some of the ordinances are "merely symbolic" because those towns don't sit atop gas reserves. More than 90 cities or towns in New York have passed resolutions addressing gas drilling, 14 in Pennsylvania have passed regulations, and some in Colorado are doing the same. A Pennsylvania appellate-court panel recently struck down a new state law that barred local officials from using zoning to prohibit drilling in certain areas.

State regulators and industry advocates say local pushback is "misguided and a dangerous obstacle to economic growth," Malewitz reports. Advocates say drillers should be exempt from local zoning laws because extraction depends on where the resources are, and sometimes residential areas and towns are included. Zoning laws differ from town to town, and Malewitz explains some zoning laws in several states. (Read more)

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