Montour Township, Columbia County – Thursday, March 19th 2015. At a regularly scheduled meeting of Montour Township supervisors and residents, an ordinance was discussed regarding oil and gas expansion. The ordinance was expected to be voted on at that meeting, but Columbia County had sent edits which the supervisors of Montour will review, and bring the ordinance up for a re-vote at the meeting on April 9th.
The ordinance contains restrictions on the expanding natural gas industry, as infrastructure projects are now proposed for Columbia County, most imminently, with the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. Some of the restrictions included the inability of gas companies and contractors to spread frack brine or flowback fluid on roads to use as dust control. Also included were setback limits to prevent pipelines, gas wells, compressor stations, and processing plants from being built within 1,000 – 2,500 feet of residences, schools and commercial centers. In addition, issues commonly found with noise and light pollution at compressor stations in other regions of Pennsylvania were addressed with limitations on when and where lights could be turned on, and noise limitation infrastructure to be included with plans.
At the township meeting, it was made clear that not only are Montour Township officials aware of the potential dangers and impacts on quality of life if the proposed pipeline does get built – but demonstrated the concern of Montour Township residents. A few attendees asked Township Supervisors to consider Home Rule, which would allow residents to get direct township-wide input on projects such as FERC-regulated pipelines.
In the midst of communities such as Dallas and Martic Townships passing community resolutions of opposition against the pipeline, it is good to see supervisors in Columbia County following suit. But as we have learned through our experience as residents and organizers of the gas fields, regulations limit expansion while allowing it to continue. To truly protect our communities, 42″ high pressure pipelines should not be built, and clean energy solutions should be in survey, research and development instead. SOC organizers will continue community outreach, building momentum within residents and pressuring elected officials as this pipeline enters the intervening period.