Letter to the editor: Judges should protect health, environment
The protection of health and the environment that is guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution is being eroded. Every judge in Pennsylvania should live next to an active gas operation with the truck traffic, emissions, leaks, spills, risks to health and environment, and blight on the landscape before attesting to the residential or agricultural nature of the activity.
While other states and entire countries have banned fracking due to environmental and health risks, and although the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has decisively ruled that gas operations are an industrial activity, too many lower court Pennsylvania judges support industry’s claim to be a compatible use in residential or agricultural areas — the same zones where any other commercial or industrial activity, e.g., an auto parts store or a restaurant, are not legally permitted. Selective zoning for one industry?
The ramifications of some lower court rulings are appalling. These judges are destroying zoning. If the gas industry can power its way into residential and agricultural areas, zoning no longer protects those of us who selectively purchased our homes in clean, lovely, residentially zoned areas. Our property values are diminished, our health is at risk, our air is polluted.
There are hundreds of studies on increased cancer, respiratory and hematological risks, and the deleterious effects on babies and young children, including lowered Apgar and IQ scores, developmental effects, low birth weights, and higher mortality rates.
The purpose of zoning is to protect public health and welfare, not provide economic gain for a particular industry.
What is clouding the vision of Pennsylvania’s lower court judges?