ShareThis Page

Online petition calls for tighter regulation of fracking in Plum

Dillon Carr
| Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, 12:42 p.m.
An Apex Energy drilling-rig operation
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
An Apex Energy drilling-rig operation

An online petition in Plum is asking residents to appeal to council members to pass a zoning ordinance that prevents oil and gas drilling in rural residential zones.

The petition, created by “Citizens 4 Plum” on Change.org, reads: “Unconventional gas drilling will convert most of the Rural Residential zone into an industrial zone which upends the investment-backed expectations of the people who live and moved into Plum Borough.”

The online petition had 785 signatures as of Monday. “Unconventional gas drilling” refers to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals.

The petition does not identify its author, and even staunch opponents of fracking in the borough said they are unaware of who posted it.

But Councilman Dave Vento, a Democrat who ran for mayor and was defeated this month after running a campaign rooted in strong regulation of fracking in the borough, agrees that rural residential areas are not the place for drilling.

“The majority of council's mind is already made up. I'm trying to let them know that more people than they think don't want fracking,” Vento said. “I don't think 20 people should make the decision for the 27,000 people of Plum.”

A recent public hearing on proposed changes to the borough's zoning ordinance drew about an equal mix of people for and against the regulations. If adopted, the new ordinance would allow the controversial drilling method in industrial and rural residential zones. The borough's ordinance, last updated in 1993, now allows fracking in every zoning district after a conditional use is granted. About 20 percent of the 29-square-mile borough is zoned rural residential, according to Plum officials.

Council President Mike Doyle has said he would have a hard time excluding rural residential zones from oil and gas activities.

Council Vice President Michael Dell declined to comment, “since we are still gathering data.” No other council members responded to emails seeking comment on the proposed zoning ordinance.

Vento expects a vote on the ordinance at council's Dec. 11 meeting.

Daniel Laird, a Democrat who lost election for a Plum council seat in November on a platform supporting regulation of fracking, said he hopes council is open to considering what the public wants. Laird has been circulating the Change.org petition on social media sites.

“This is ... a community issue,” Laird said. “I hope there is a way to sway their opinion.”

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.