HARRISBURG — Senator Lisa Baker, R-20th, issued the following statement regarding Governor Tom Wolf’s decision to support draft regulations to impose a natural gas drilling ban in Wayne and Pike counties:
“Across a wide area of northern and southwestern Pennsylvania, natural gas drilling is providing jobs, boosting the prospects of small communities, lowering energy costs, and giving our state an energy advantage in the competition for keeping and bringing in jobs. State regulations have been stiffened, enforcement strengthened, and impact fees are being collected and distributed to affected communities. There is certainly more to be done, but we have recognized and responded to concerns about environmental impact and community safety.
Given this reality, to assert that drilling is an intolerable threat to water supplies just over the hill is remarkably inconsistent and contradictory. For the governor to so enthusiastically support a ban in one watershed is impossible to reconcile with his statements or justify in any economic or policy terms. Why would Pennsylvania cast a deciding vote to move forward toward a ban when there is active litigation filed by its citizens to lift the moratorium? The only explanation left for people is politics.
This decision appears to be another example of state government having a severe disregard for rural areas. It is essential that the commission convene public hearings in Wayne and Pike counties to hear from those whose lives and livelihoods will be diminished by this action, and those who have consistently demonstrated that they are good stewards of the land, the water, and the environment. They have a deep appreciation of the principles of fairness and equality.
There will likely be an argument made that this action constitutes a “taking” that would require considerable compensation to landowners. I intend to explore and pursue any available legislative remedy in this direction.
There is also a legitimate concern that this is the beginning of an assault on other economic enterprises. The impact here is not necessarily limited to natural gas drilling. The anti-economic activity wording in the resolution could be applied to agricultural enterprises and many other activities that have an impact on water supplies.”
Director, Senate Republican Communications
22 East Wing, Main Capitol, Harrisburg, PA 17120