Public Utility Commission Rejects Pittsburgh's Fracking Ban
The PUC says Pittsburgh City Council overstepped its authority by banning fracking, something the commission says only the Commonwealth can do. The PUC has just begun to issue opinions on local drilling ordinances, a task delegated to the commission under the state’s new drilling law, Act 13. Last week, the PUC also issued an opinion against gas drilling regulations in Fayette County. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more on the PUC’s decision.
Pittsburgh’s local rules, passed in November 2010, are more restrictive than most of the other ordinances before the commission. It says gas production poses a “significant threat” to residents, and that drilling permits issued by the state and federal governments will not be recognized in the city.
The PUC letter says that in banning gas extraction, the city created its own environmental regulation, which only the commonwealth has the right to do. Provisions stating that Department of Environmental Protection permits are invalid also is in conflict with state law, according to the letter.
According to the Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh City Council plans to ignore the PUC’s censure.