After two hours of discussion on subjects from hazards to residential water wells - including the fact that many of them have contamination issues even without any gas drilling - to whether natural gas drilling lowers property values, the supervisors failed to make a motion to move forward on the ordinance, or even to hold a special meeting for further discussion.But the issue is much more complicated. Regulations across the board, from federal and state levels, might make this ordinance impossible and even unconstitutional. Citizens Voice further reports:
"They completely ignored the will of the people," Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition co-founder Dr. Thomas Jiunta said afterwards, noting that about 510 out of the township's approximately 1,200 residents had signed a petition in favor of the ordinance. "Basically, they (the supervisors) abdicated their responsibility."
This presents an enormous challenge to communities and their rights. Because they are subsumed within larger public bodies (counties, states, and the nation) they are subject to governmental laws, regulations, policies, and procedures that can overrun their local right to self-governance and self-determination. It may be that self-determination is not a right in these cases because, for example, "eminent domain" can be invoked by regulatory departments working with industries (pipelines, roads, or perhaps even gas wells themselves) have determined that it is in the interest of the largest body (state or federal levels) to put in the pipeline, road, or gas well. Local people's interests can lose.
Planning and zoning Solicitor Jack Haley said that in proposing that the rights of corporations be subordinated to those of individuals, proponents of the ordinance forget that Lehman Township itself is a state-chartered corporation.
Making the township and its people the top governing body could have unintendended consequences, Haley said. It could lead to secession not only from the state, but from the U.S., he said. Or it could be used to deny people their rights based on factors such as religion or ethnicity, or, by prohibiting pollution lead to a ban on cars.
Do you think that the ordinance should be passed?