Monroeville Pushes Ban on NatGas Activity, Incl. Drilling & Plants

The dunderhead leaders of Monroeville, PA (Allegheny County, suburb of Pittsburgh) are at it again, acting hostile toward the shale industry, attempting to stymie any kind of shale activity within its borders. In September, Monroeville Council voted to enact a super-restrictive seismic testing ordinance (see Monroeville, PA Passes Restrictive Seismic Testing Ordinance). The ordinance is meant to hassle Huntley & Huntley (H&H), which wants to conduct seismic testing in two rural areas of the municipality. In October, the contractor hired to do the seismic work for H&H, Geokinetics, took Monroeville Council to court over their punitive seismic ordinance. Both sides compromised and in November settled the case (see Monroeville Council Approves Seismic Testing Court Settlement). In October, Monroeville Council passed a temporary ban on oil and gas well drilling everywhere except for those areas marked M-2 industrial zoning–a big change (see Monroeville, PA Hostile to Shale, Bans Drilling in Most Places).

Previously drilling permits were “conditional use,” meaning each permit was evaluated on its own merits, regardless of which zoning district it was located in. By limiting drilling to M-2, the Council effectively banned drilling in the municipality. They passed the temporary ban until they could pass a new zoning ordinance that would set the frack ban policy in concrete. That day is now here. Monroeville Council has just advertised a new zoning ordinance to FURTHER RESTRICT any kind of oil and gas activity–not just drilling, but pipelines, compressor plants, etc.–to a 150-acre parcel located next to the city dump. That’s 150 acres out of 12,620 acres that make up Monroeville (1%). In other words, this is a complete and total ban on the shale industry in Monroeville–the Pittsburgh suburb that’s officially “closed for business”…

Hey, if Monroeville can do this to one industry they don’t like (oil and gas), they can do it for any industry they don’t like. Which is why we say Monroeville is closed for business. What business in its right mind would locate there now? (As an aside, Huntley & Huntley’s headquarters is located in Monroeville. We think they should consider moving.)

Monroeville is moving forward on allowing natural gas operations only in a designated zoning district in the southwestern corner of the municipality near a landfill on Thomas Street Extension.

Council voted unanimously Tuesday to advertise an ordnance regulating and establishing standards and criteria for oil and gas development, drilling and related operations. It will vote on the ordinance itself at a future meeting.

Under the ordinance, natural gas operations — including compressor stations, well pads, impoundments and other activities — would be permitted only in the S1-Special Conservancy zoning district, said Robert Wratcher, solicitor for Monroeville.

That area is about 150 acres and has an access road. Mr. Wratcher added that 10 acres would be required for a drill site.

He noted that under state law, oil and gas activities must be permitted somewhere in the municipality.

The ordinance is “comprehensive” and will regulate all aspects pertaining to natural gas development in the municipality, he said. Monroeville has not revised this aspect of its zoning ordinance since 2005, he said.*

Here’s a copy of the onerous new ban all shale activity ordinance that Monroeville expects to adopt:

Municipality of Monroeville Ordinance

*Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette (Jan 11, 2018) – Monroeville eyes restrictions on natural gas operations

Posted: 01-12-2018


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