Despite a Pennsylvania court decision on Thursday that handed anti-fracking advocates at least a temporary victory by overturning a key section of a state law which banned municipalities from blocking gas-drilling "fracking" operations using local zoning ordinances, there will be no rest and relaxing for opponents of the oil and gas industry's drilling plans.
Clean water activists and environmentalists celebrated the decision and lawyers for the seven townships that sued over the state law said the court acted responsibly by reinstating local authority to carry out basic zoning.
“It will allow local governments to continue to play a meaningful role in protecting property rights, residents and water supplies,” said Jordan B. Yeager, a lawyer who represented the township of Nockamixon and the Borough of Yardley, both in Bucks County.
"States are failing to protect communities from fracking and its various impacts, so the only place people can turn is to is local government," said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America, an environmental advocacy group.
The decision in Pennsylvania -- which will likely be appealed to the state's Supreme Court -- comes just two days ahead of a planned event in Washington, DC on Saturday that will see representatives from over 130 local and national organizations converge on the capitol to call on Congress to take action to protect community rights, public health, drinking water, and the global climate from the impacts of fracking.
Under the banner of "Stop the Frack Attack" the coalition of groups will demand the closure of legal loopholes that allow the oil and gas industry to ignore parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and other bedrock environmental laws while fracking.
In a statement the coalition declared that they are "concerned citizens and groups seeking to protect their health and their families from an industry that is exempt from basic environmental protections, coddled by regulators, and supported by generous tax incentives to drill next to our schools and homes while polluting our air and water."
The activists plan to gather in front of the US Capitol building with signs and banners calling on Congress to take immediate action to end the industry's regulatory immunity and later, dressed in hazmat suits, will deliver jugs of contaminated water to the headquarters of the America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the lobbying arm of the drilling industry.
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