HARRISBURG – Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) has launched an effort to require compensation for landowners in the Delaware River Basin, including those in Wayne and Pike counties, who are in jeopardy of losing valuable property rights to a pending ban on natural gas drilling.
Since 2009, landowners have been living under a moratorium that has prevented them from realizing the economic benefits accruing to those in other parts of the state. Last year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced his support for a permanent ban, and the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is expected to make a final decision later this year.
Calling the situation indefensible, today Baker announced the introduction of legislation, SB 1189, declaring such action will constitute a taking that must be paid for by the DRBC.
“In my judgment, such deprivation of property rights constitutes a taking, just the same as if the property were condemned for any other public use,” Baker said. “Landowners are entitled to compensation calculated in the same manner as is any other eminent domain action.”
Individuals and landowner groups have pursued multiple political and legal avenues to assert their rights, without resolution. A final decision could take years, so they are understandably frustrated.
“This is a major economic boost enjoyed by countless others across Pennsylvania, but unfairly denied to landowners and this region as a whole,” Baker added. “Many of these folks are also paying state taxes to support development in other parts of Pennsylvania, while being denied their own opportunity.
In Pennsylvania, the Delaware River Basin Commission consists of all or parts of Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Schuylkill and Wayne counties.
Andrew M. Seder