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Saturday, October 18, 2014

“I definitely wouldn’t have moved here if I had known there would be a well pad 1,200 feet from our home.”

               A Mars school district parent and child look at a drilling rig in Western Pennsylvania.

A group of concerned Pennsylvania parents have launched a legal challenge against their town council’s recent decision to allow five horizontal gas wells about a half mile from the Mars School District, a campus of 3,200 children. The four parents, joined by the environmental groups Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Clean Air Council, contend that the Middlesex Township Board of Supervisors violated Pennsylvania’s state Constitution when it voted to change the township’s zoning laws back in August. Those changes legally opened up Middlesex’s residential and agricultural lands for potential drilling, despite the protests of parents and residents concerned about air pollution, water contamination, and noise.

The zoning law change has wide implications for drilling and fracking in Middlesex, but the main reason for the change was to pave the way for the proposed gas wells near the school. The Geyer well site would be placed on farmland owned by Middlesex residents Bob and Kim Geyer, and operated by a company called Rex Energy. The wells would be about 3,000 feet from all of the school district’s buildings, a youth homeless center, and just 800 feet from a residential community where many of the schoolkids live. Jennifer Chomicki, a party to the lawsuit and a mother of two young daughters who will attend the Mars school district, told ThinkProgress about her concerns with the Geyer well site in August. “I definitely wouldn’t have moved here if I had known there would be a well pad 1,200 feet from our home,” she said at the time. Watch more of Chomicki’s comments to ThinkProgress below:"