Monroeville residents suspicious of proposed fracking ordinance
Residents are complaining about Monroeville's proposed oil and gas ordinance because they say its has been developed to accommodate companies that want to develop fracking wells in the municipality.
The concern centers on changes in the ordinance that would allow drilling in a 150-acre special conservancy zone that includes a landfill, instead of in heavy industrial areas where it is now permitted.
The landfill is owned by Waste Management, which has a lease agreement at the property with oil and gas exploration company Huntley & Huntley of Monroeville.
Resident Tom Henningsen during a recent council work session said Huntley & Huntley would benefit if wells are allowed in the conservancy zone.
“I can't escape the conclusion that has something to do with why it's appearing in the current ordinance,” he said about the lease agreement.
Monroeville solicitor Bob Wratcher dismissed the suggestion that the interests of oil and gas developers were considered when he was drafting the ordinance. He said the site was chosen because drilling would have less of an impact there and that the industrial areas might be too small for wells. He added that determining who had oil and gas leases in the municipality was not part of his research when drafting the ordinance.
A Huntley & Huntley official said his company years ago signed oil and gas leases at several Waste Management landfill sites in the region, but that doesn't mean they would drill at all of them.
“Natural gas wells will not be possible on all of Waste Management's landfill properties in the region,” Huntley & Huntley Vice President Paul Burke said in an email, adding that the company has no plans to drill at the Monroeville landfill. He also said there have not been well pads built on any of the Waste Management sites under the oil and gas leases acquired a few years ago.