On January 14th, 2016 at 7:30pm, the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board intends to start the hearing process for the Beattie Well pad, one of 7 recently proposed unconventional gas well pads in Penn Township’s agricultural zone. The township found all 7 of the land development applications to be incomplete. The Zoning Board, though, found the special exception applications to be complete enough to start the hearing process for the wells.
Protect PT intends to be a party to these proceedings in order to address concerns and objections by area residents. “It is crucial for residents to participate in these hearings to learn as much as possible about the impacts of industrial activity to those who live, work, and recreate in these otherwise peaceful rural areas. Ultimately, the township and zoning hearing board have constitutional duties to ensure the protection of the environment and the people who rely on it – Protect PT’s participation is necessary to ensure the local government satisfies those duties.” said Oday Salim of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, the attorney for the group.
Protect PT is further motivated to participate in the upcoming hearings because Penn Township is simply not providing the information asked for regarding the risk posed by these proposed wells and just how the township intends to manage that risk. “We do not understand why the township is not answering our basic questions. We are simply trying to understand what the township has done about the resident concerns regarding noise, light, and traffic at the Quest well pad that went into effect last summer. We have not received complete answers.” said Gillian Graber, president of Protect PT. Mrs. Graber added that “At meetings and in writing, we have also asked the township detailed questions about its emergency preparedness, the adequacy of its resources for ensuring compliance with the law, and its plan for accommodating more oil and gas infrastructure. The shocking and disappointing response we got was that the township was not legally required to answer our questions and that answers to all our questions can be found in the ordinance. As residents, we expect more from our local government. In the face of such disrespect, we will fight even harder to find out just what our government is and isn’t doing to protect us.”
Questions about undermined areas of the township, the saturation point of gas development within the township, plans for future gas infrastructure like pipelines, compressor stations, and processing plants, and what type of experts the township will employ to ensure no harm is done to their constituents must be answered in order for the public to have a truthful and accurate picture of what future gas development will look like in Penn Township. We urge residents to demand transparency from the local government, keep addressing concerns important to them, and participate in the governmental process such as the January 14th and additional Zoning Hearing Board public meetings held at the Municipal Building located at 2001 Municipal Court Harrison City, PA 15636.