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Council discusses fracking ordinance

July 28, 2011

During a recent City Council meeting, several topics were discussed, including instituting a set of mandates to protect against water fracking and a proposed increase in the Elk County Tax Collection Committee.
Councilman Dick Dornisch brought up discussion regarding the need to protect water sources in our area, specifically those located on private property.
He noted that a city taskforce focused on Marcellus Shale activity "came up with a set of rules that are pretty decent" regarding fracking in the city.
"We need to get them published and approved. I would like to see them in place as things are getting closer," Dornisch said. "We need to protect ourselves and get this thing on the books."
He added that the taskforce and/or council can change, add, or erase information from the mandates whenever they need to, as they are "not carved in stone."
Council also discussed having the mandates reviewed by a law firm specializing in Marcellus Shale activity.
City Manager Dave Greene said he forwarded a draft ordinance on the topic to a Philadelphia-based law firm who specializes in environmental issues. Greene said that he was notified that the firm cannot review the proposed ordinance, as they have been hired by Marcellus Shale drillers for similar work and this would pose a conflict of interest for the firm.
Greene noted that he has also contacted two other law firms in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
"What consequences are there if we publish it?" asked Councilman Denny Nero.
"If we're going to do this we, need to do it right or we are wasting money," added Mark Jacob, solicitor. "I feel we're on the right track based on the information we were given. Why not talk to someone who has been in court for these types of matters?"
Dornisch noted that it has been 11 months since the issue of fracking mandates was initially discussed.
Nero added that he would like to see some type of case work showing that any potential law firm they work with has experience with this type of case.
"The whole state is in the same boat," added Sally Geyer, St. Marys mayor.
Nero also questioned the status of how plans would progress regarding the possibility of selling of water to drilling companies.

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