Act 13, a law passed by the Pennsylvania state legislature in February to regulate oil and gas drilling, has been under discussion at the last two meetings of the .
The conversation began at the Supervisors’ June 7 meeting when township resident Barnaby Ruhe made a presentation to the board about what he sees as the dangers of Act 13 and asked the board to join the more than 100 townships across the state he says are opposing the law. A court challenge is also in the works, Ruhe said.
Do you think the Upper Milford Township Board of Supervisors should formally oppose Act 13?
In an effort to learn more about Act 13 before taking any sort of a formal stand against it, the Supervisors invited a representative from the office of state Rep Justin Simmons R-131st to attend the board’s July 5 meeting. At that meeting, Eric Davis, a Simmons’ staffer, told the board that Rep. Simmons did vote in favor of Act 13, adding that if the Supervisors have a problem with the measure, they can ask Simmons to vote to repeal the law.
During both the June 7 and July 5 meetings, Supervisor George DeVault was the most vocally opposed to Act 13, finding fault with it on two fronts – the way it is “gutting local government” and what a type of natural gas drilling commonly known as “fracking” may be doing to the environment.
In particular DeVault said he is concerned about the fact that the gas companies do not have to tell anyone what types of chemicals they are putting into the ground to get the natural gas out.
“It’s a situation of I could tell you but then I would have to kill you,” DeVault quipped. “What happens underground is a big mystery.”
Opponents of fracking typically question what the chemicals being pumped into the ground will do to the water supply and DeVault, a farmer, mentioned strange things already being seen within the state’s farm animal population that are being talked about with the agricultural community.
Supervisors Daniel Mohr and Robert Sentner both said that they needed to learn more about Act 13. Sentner called the law "kind of scary."
Mohr said the Supervisors would invite a representative of the state Department of Environmental Protection to the board's next meeting to talk about Act 13.
The Upper Milford Township Board of Supervisors meets July 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the township building. A 7 p.m. workshop meeting preceeds the regular meeting.