Energy. Environment. Economy.

The Politics Of Last Month’s Southeast Drilling Moratorium

screenshot from the U.S. Geological Survey

The South Newark Basin stretches from New Jersey down into Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

The Inquirer takes a closer look at last month’s moratorium on drilling in southeastern Pennsylvania’s South Newark Basin,  the political motivations behind the ban, and the how the language ended up in a budget-related bill just a day before the measure was signed into law:

The moratorium’s chief backer, Sen. Charles McIlhinney (R., Bucks), says it was necessary in light of a new scientific study on the potential natural gas locked in the so-called South Newark Basin, which underlies parts of Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, and Berks Counties. “We need to find out where it is and how much is there before drilling,” McIlhinney said.

The moratorium’s critics blame science, too – political science.

They contend McIlhinney and other Bucks County legislators carved out a special status for their home turf to pacify angry constituents in case drillers come calling with their rigs. This while other locales across the state with real drilling concerns have to abide by Pennsylvania’s new law, known as Act 13, which impose fees on drillers in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale but takes away local zoning controls over drilling.

“What makes Bucks and Montgomery so special?” asked State Rep. Jesse White (D., Washington), whose southwestern district is dotted with drilling rigs.

Click here to read about how much gas is in the formation.


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