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White Oak officials agree to explore regulating Marcellus shale drilling

| Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 3:21 a.m.

White Oak officials are examining legal options for regulating Marcellus shale drilling in the borough, based on a resident's warning and request.

Gary Kelso approached council on Monday evening to explain an informational packet he forwarded to Mayor Ina Jean Marton in recent weeks. It includes ordinances adopted by neighboring municipalities to ban or regulate the drilling to suit their community's needs and concerns.

Kelso cited examples from Elizabeth Township, North Huntingdon Township and Forest Hills and said White Oak is in need of ordinances for drilling and seismic testing because of decisions that are being made regarding nearby property in East Allegheny School District. He said White Oak needs to act fast, because the borough has no regulations in place and drilling companies will do as they please if they aren't regulated.

“They need 10 acres, and they don't care who's around them,” Kelso said. “They're willing to go under homes and shopping centers because it's so far underground that the people above won't notice.”

Council president Carrie Noll confirmed council received Kelso's information and passed it on to Solicitor Ryan James.

“I'm going to research that decision and prepare advice in terms of what can be done legally to regulate Marcellus shale drilling,” James said.

Noll said Marcellus shale drilling hasn't been explored from a community perspective in several years. There was a town hall meeting on the subject, and former legal counsel Patricia McGrail advised the borough on what the borough could do in terms of regulation at that time.

“We might be in order to have another (meeting),” she said. “That was a different council with different perspectives, and we now have more of an understanding of what our options are.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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