For Immediate Release
OAKMONT, PA - Last night, the Oakmont Borough Council voted to approve an updated Oil and Gas Well ordinance, the culmination of a months-long struggle to pass a strong measure that would protect residents from the dangers associated with fracking.
The amended ordinance includes expanded definitions for natural gas development infrastructure, restricts all oil and gas development to industrial zones, and sets a 2,000-foot setback from property lines.
“This win is a testament to what is possible when neighbors come together to fight to protect their community,” said Megan McDonough, Food & Water Watch’s Municipal Ordinance Project Organizer. “The fracking industry is desperately seeking new ways to turn a profit, and that means trying to drill in new areas of our state, including densely populated areas of Allegheny County. That’s why we’re organizing to stop them before the fracking starts.”
Residents started meeting in the summer of 2017 to strategize ways they could push for an updated zoning ordinance that would offer some protection from drilling. By December, the local group Citizens to Protect Oakmont offered a list of suggestions, including a 2,000-foot setback, the removal of fracking from the Light Industrial district, and more disclosure from drilling companies.
After the grassroots push for a strong ordinance, the Borough Council considered a weaker measure that would have cleared the way for drilling in residential areas. Community members were motivated to keep the pressure on for the strongest possible protections.
“The vote to approve Oakmont's Oil and Gas zoning ordinance is an example of the power of ordinary citizens organizing to protect the health and safety of their town,” said Ed Grystar from Citizens to Protect Oakmont. “From the beginning in May 2017, we worked to change the narrative of what's acceptable by educating and mobilizing our neighbors. We need to continue our work to strengthen the Citizens to Protect Oakmont and reach out to others in our region for real political change.”
Food & Water Watch’s Municipal Ordinance Project (MOP) works with communities in Pennsylvania to promote the development of protective zoning ordinances.