South Fayette is regulating gas drilling like many other communities. However, it’s being sued by Range Resources for doing so. Western Pennsylvania’s dominant drillers call the township’s regulations an illegal ban on natural gas development that’s holding back development on leases set to expire, taking more than a billion dollars with them when the driller is short on cash.
Residents of the town think they have a lot to lose. A citizens group “Friends Of South Fayette” has spent more than $20,000 protecting the ordinance approved that prohibits surface drilling in the community’s neighborhoods, parks, farms and school zones.
Citizens of the community often come to meetings ready to defend themselves against the Range lawyers who show up stating that the ordinance won’t stand up in litigation. “What a strategic error on the part of the industry to think this town was going to settle for that,” said Keith McDonough, a major financial backer of the Friends of South Fayette. The Range case is expected to move on to a higher court level.
Named one of the areas “best suburbs,” South Fayette caters to Pittsburgh professionals who have views of the rolling hills. Before the drilling debacle, most of the chatter was about a new shopping district planned for the township of 15,000. The residents of the town never suspected the drilling efforts would happen so close to home.
With many broken relationships within the town, many residents are weary about the way the government operates. It is only common that people want to protect their homes, kids, and the activities they enjoy. It is only natural that the residents fight for what they believe in – and in this case, they believe in a drill-free environment.