MONROEVILLE, PA - In response to advocacy from community members to protect residents from fracking, the Monroeville City Council unanimously passed an ordinance regulating seismic testing at its September 12 meeting.
The council also announced an intention to pass a new oil and gas zoning ordinance, and approved a motion to advertise a temporary amendment to its zoning code while the new language is developed.
A seismic survey involves the use of explosive charges, setting off between 10 to 30 pounds of explosives in a deep borehole. By measuring seismic waves, companies can predict where gas may be trapped and therefore which areas may be more profitable for hydraulic fracturing.
Similar to the ordinance passed by neighboring Oakmont Borough earlier this year, Monroeville’s new law requires public notice of any proposed testing in writing, and free inspections for possible property damage after the testing. A surveying company would need to hire a licensed engineer to monitor all operations, and would also be required to acquire local maps for water wells, hazardous waste storage, and sewer lines.
“Sustainable Monroeville will continue educating the community about this issue and work towards an extremely protective Oil and Gas Zoning ordinance to severely limit fracking activities,” said Elisa Beck of Sustainable Monroeville. “Today’s seismic testing ordinance is a great first step in protecting our community.”
The moves by the Monroeville council are a significant rebuke to gas drilling firm Huntley & Huntley, which is headquartered in Monroeville. Earlier this year, Huntley & Huntley announced plans to conduct seismic testing around the region. After Oakmont passed their seismic testing ordinance in July, the company announced it would not survey in Oakmont.
“Communities around the region are waking up to their power to regulate the dangerous oil and gas industry,” said Sam Bernhardt, Senior Pennsylvania Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “Monroeville, Oakmont, and communities like it should be applauded for standing up to this dangerous and overzealous industry, as state and federal officials have failed to do so.”