This is Ligonier's friendly neighborhood blog and an attempt to recapture our lively opinionated debates in a free speech zone.

Please join our conversations. Contributors welcome.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Meanwhile: Parents pushing back, defending their children and school

Because the parents did not want their children’s health sacrificed so that some fracking Okie could export LNG to China. Imagine that.

"Rex Energy will not proceed with drilling operations on their Geyer well pad, a controversial cluster of six wells located about a half mile away from 3,200 students at the Mars Area School District campus. Rex Energy recently sent gas lease holders a letter explaining how the stay will prevent the company from further development of the Geyer well pad during the time that the legal challenges are heard.Last month, parents in Middlesex Township, along with environmental groups Clean Air Council and Delaware Riverkeeper Network, filed multiple challenges related to the Geyer well. The parents and groups filed a substantive validity challenge to an overhaul of Middlesex Township’s zoning, which opens up the Township to drilling and related facilities. The challengers appealed the land use permit issued by Middlesex Township, and the well permits issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP).  The challengers argued that the amendment and related permits violate the people’s right to pure water, clean air, a healthy environment, and fail to protect public health, safety, and welfare. The challenge to the ordinance and land use permit automatically imposed a stay on further site development. According to area residents, Rex Energy violated the stay shortly after October 10th.

Rex Energy had planned to begin drilling the Geyer wells as early as January or February 2015, but the legal actions require that Rex Energy halt all well pad development. Rex Energy petitioned Middlesex Township to allow it to complete the well pad under the pretext that full cessation could cause soil erosion. The Township agreed to allow Rex Energy to finish constructing the well pad, but barred it from pursuing any further development at the site, including drilling and fracking. Amy Nassif leads the Mars Parent Group, a local group of Mars Area School District parents concerned about the proximity of drilling near the school. Speaking as a parent, it is extremely disappointing to learn that industry is allowed to make their own rules and break the law,” said Nassif. “Their actions further erode confidence in their procedures and operations as they encroach on schools and densely populated areas,” Nassif added."