A Pennsylvania judge has ruled to uphold a local zoning ordinance, granted to Rex Energy, that faced opposition from two environmental groups due to the fact that it would allow for drilling near the property of a local school district. This area and all of Butler County, like a large portion of Pennsylvania, is designated a residential-agricultural area, which means it’s ripe for development for gas and oil. In fact, since 2005, there have been over 800 unconventional drilling permits issued in Butler County.
The same obstacles are facing many Pennsylvania townships, with most opponents claiming these sites are unsuitable as locations for unconventional well sites. Aside from this, Pennsylvania’s state constitution has an amendment that provides all of its residents the right to “clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.” Some groups feel these well sites are infringing upon those rights.
However, this isn’t the only ruling to find in favor of the permit holders in recent times. In September, a state appellate court upheld a conditional use permit in a township in Lycoming County. Like much of Pennsylvania, most of the township is a residential zone, which the appellate court found suitable for oil and gas wells, the justification being there are other public service buildings found in these zones. In a separate case, a Lycoming County drilling opponent was ordered to post a bond of nearly $6 million to proceed with their appeal.
Rex Energy issued a statement, revealing their plans to resume their Middlesex operation. A previously-issued stay was also lifted by a Butler County court. The environmental groups’ attorneys have stated that they intend to appeal the common pleas court’s decision.
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