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KDKA Investigates: Local Towns Fighting For Power To Ban Fracking

ALLEGHENY COUNTY (KDKA) -- Proponents say that shale gas drilling -- commonly known as fracking -- has been an economic boom for rural parts of counties like Washington, Butler and Beaver.

But as fracking moves closer to the more densely populated towns of Allegheny County, the opposition has stiffened with some folks saying they'll protest with their feet.

"I will not hesitate to move out of this borough if this decision moves forward," one man said.

Residents in Franklin Park successfully fought a proposal to drill under Linbrook Park, a message heard by Franklin Park's lawmakers.

In a letter to Governor Tom Wolf and the state legislators, the mayor and council said the residents are at risk, and they want the power to ban all drilling within its borders.

"Every municipality --particularly in places where there's a greater population density -- really does have their backs against the wall, because it's hard to put this in a place that's far enough away from people to make it safe," said Amy Sable, an attorney hired by the borough.

Right now, towns can't ban fracking.

But in the letter, Franklin Park said it wants revisions in the state planning code to give all municipalities that power.

Short of that, they say any town in Allegheny County should be able to decide whether drilling is allowed.

"In a place like Allegheny County, where you've got 1,700 people per square mile, it's just too densely populated for this use to make sense here," Sable said.

David Spigelmyer of the Marcellus Shale Coalition issued a statement, saying:

"Our industry absolutely supports common sense, predictable and workable regulations" But while not addressing the proposed legislation indicated it would deprive landowners of using their mineral rights and would likely lead to a protracted court fight. "Such misguided policies have burdened local taxpayers with costly and unnecessary legal bills in an effort to deny private property rights."

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