Plum, PA Gives Huntley & Huntley Green Light for Shale Drilling
Unlike the anti-drilling Luddites in Monroeville, PA who seek to stifle shale drilling in their municipality (see today’s story: Monroeville, PA Hostile to Shale, Bans Drilling in Most Places), the leaders in Plum, PA (shares a border with Monroeville, in Alleghany County) has approved a plan by Huntley & Huntley to drill a series of Marcellus wells in their municipality. Last week MDN told you that H&H plans to begin constructing a well pad in Plum next month (see Huntley & Huntley Starts Shale Drilling in Plum, PA Next Month). Plum officials gave H&H their blessing on the plan at a meeting on Wednesday. About 150 people showed up for the meeting, many against H&H’s plan to drill. Among the antis was a representative from FracTracker Alliance–a non-profit that pretends to be an impartial “watchdog” of the drilling industry. At the meeting the FracTracker rep revealed his out-of-the-mainstream, anti-drilling bias. He outted his organization as an anti-fossil fuel, Big Green group. Although there was plenty of the typical anti moaning and groaning at the meeting, to their credit, the Plum Council voted 6-1 to approve H&H’s plan to construct a well pad, and to drill several fracked Marcellus wells at the site…
An oil and gas exploration company got the green light from Plum council Wednesday to proceed with its plans to build a Marcellus shale well pad in the borough.
Huntley and Huntley of Monroeville is developing its Midas well on 92 acres near Coxcomb Hill Road in Plum. Company Vice President Paul Burke has said construction of the well pad for the hydraulic fracturing project is expected to start next month.
About 150 people attended the meeting during which council voted 6-1 to approve a land use permit for Midas.
“I have some real concerns about water quality in regards to fracking,” Mayor Richard Hrivnak said. “You can’t drink money. Once the water is gone, it’s gone.”
The audience erupted in applause after the mayor’s statements, but not everyone in the packed council chambers was against fracking — a process of extracting gas by injecting rock with high-pressure water, sand and chemicals.
“Please don’t listen to scare tactics about drilling and fracking,” said Susan McClelland of Plum.
“The facts are that over 10,000 shale wells have been safely drilled in Pennsylvania alone,” said McClelland, who lives near the Midas site.
Matt Kelso, a Plum resident and manager of data and technology for the FracTracker Alliance, spoke against Marcellus shale drilling in general. The alliance is a nonprofit oil and gas industry watchdog group.
“What happens once they drill? We don’t know,” he said.
Councilman Dave Vento gave a presentation against well development in the borough before voting against approval of the land use permit. Vento held up a map showing six potential well sites being considered by Huntley and Huntley in Plum and nearby areas. The map was developed by the Plum Municipal Authority with information from the exploration company, which would need to buy water for its fracking operations in the region.
“These others, if we don’t try and do something to stop them, they’ll be coming one right after the other,” Vento said. “Do I want to go to court? Absolutely not. I don’t want to go to court… but if we have to go to court to fight for this community, heck yeah.”
Huntley and Huntley has said that speculative drilling sites are always changing and that the map developed earlier this year was no longer accurate. Burke, who was at the meeting but did not address council, said the company plans to pursue more well pads in Plum.
“But we don’t know how many or where yet. And when we do, we’ll go through the process just like every other well,” he said.
Councilman Paul Dern said governments cannot prevent drilling from happening in the municipality, but they could regulate where it takes place through zoning laws.
Plum Finance Director Michael Whitico said council will examine updating the borough’s zoning ordinance and will hold a public hearing 6 p.m. Nov. 6.
“The only thing we can do as a borough is say where we are allowing drilling to take place,” Dern said.*
*Pittsburgh (PA) Tribune-Review (Oct 12, 2017) – Despite opposition, Plum’s council OKs Marcellus shale well pad permit