Mars Area residents plead with board: Don't OK drilling
Mars Area School District residents on Tuesday urged school board members to reject Rex Energy's proposal to conduct horizontal drilling for oil and gas underneath district property along Route 228.
About 60 residents attended a school board meeting in which Rex representatives outlined their proposal: The company would pay just over $1 million in a five-year lease for the right to drill under the property and share 15 percent of the royalties from any oil or gas extracted.
“If there are any risks whatsoever, the school district shouldn't be doing this,” said Amy Nassif of Adams, who has two children in the district.
Duane Maust, manager of land for Rex Energy, said the company would drill horizontally from property in Middlesex off Denny Road — about 4,000 feet from the district's property, which encompasses about 175 acres.
Maust said the State College-based company would not conduct any drilling on school property, Instead, it would drill about a mile down and then horizontally to the district property. He said the company is negotiating a separate lease with the Mars Home for Youth for underground drilling rights.
The grassroots group Protect Our Children — which is partnering with members of Marcellus Outreach Butler and Marcellus Outreach Middlesex — cited the Feb. 11 explosion of a natural gas well site in Dunkard in Greene County. The group called for Mars Area directors to reject the proposal.
The explosion killed one gas worker, and it took crews until Feb. 25 to cap the second well at the site and stop leaking gas.
The group said it has concerns about environmental pollution and the effects it could have on young children. It called for a ban on drilling within a mile from school buildings.
Advocates have said that natural gas drilling, when done properly, does not harm or pollute the environment.
In 2009, Rex Energy offered Mars Area a five-year lease to drill, but the district did not enter into any agreement.
The state passed new rules for how close drill sites can be to buildings as part of its overhaul of oil and gas laws in 2012. Unconventional gas wells must be at least 500 feet away from a building or water well, the law says.
It does grant exceptions though. Owners may give written consent for drillers to work closer, and the well operator may obtain a variance to work closer if the setback would block a subsurface owner from accessing the oil and gas. Conversely, municipal governments have some power to make more restrictive setbacks.
The school board could vote on Rex Energy's proposal as soon as March 11.
Bill Vidonic is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Cranberry stretch among roads in Butler County to be repaired
- Butler County’s burgeoning tourism industry provides economic boost
- Uncertainty over Pa. state budget trickles down to school districts
- Plan to build Butler duplex for homeless veterans shelved
- Slippery Rock program connects preschoolers with music
- Center VA clinic developer moves to ease traffic concerns