By Beth Fisher, correspondent
Bucks County Courier Times
Posted Dec 6, 2016 at 12:01 AM
Despite the pleas of several residents to hold off, the Newtown Planning Commission approved a recommendation Tuesday night to advertise a proposed ordinance aimed at limiting the opportunity for fracking in the township if a current moratorium is lifted.
“I don’t want you to advertise because it is a very weak ordinance. Send it back to strengthen it,” said Steve Bacher, of Newtown Township.
The ordinance, drafted by Terry Clemons, solicitor for Wrightstown Township, limits where oil and gas exploration and development can take place and what activities would be permitted. The intention is for the ordinance to be approved by Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown, the three municipalities that make up the Jointure.
The planning commission assured residents that the action they were taking was simply a recommendation to the board of supervisors to advertise the ordinance, a step they say is necessary to advance the process of reviewing and possibly changing the ordinance, with public input.
“How can we just turn it over to them and say it will all work out and we will tweak it later?” said Betty Tathem. “Clarification definitely needs to be done by experts. Please look for that kind of help.”
Fracking is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks and boreholes to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas. Opponents blame the process for contaminating water, the air or even, in some cases, causing earthquakes.
Currently there is a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. Opponents of fracking are working to put a permanent ban in place.
Pennsylvania law does not permit municipalities from prohibiting fracking, but it does allow local officials to limit where fracking can be done in individual communities.
“I think we should go ahead and advertise, get this going. When it comes time for the public hearings I’ll be on your side of the table and I will be making some of the same comments,” said commission member Dennis Fisher.