Murrysville’s proposed rules may lack the wells to regulate
Murrysville could have an ordinance regulating Marcellus shale drilling on the books by the end of January — but no one to enforce it on.
Despite inquiries to local officials earlier this year, officials at Range Resources said last week that the municipality is not part of the drilling company’s current two-year plan.
“We have drilling plans for about two years in advance right now, and we do have some leases out there (in Murrysville), but they’re not in those plans,” said Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for Range Resources, a Canonsburg-based oil and gas drilling company that has about 300 Marcellus shale drilling wells across Pennsylvania. “Nothing is going to happen out there anytime soon.”
Range Resources told council in April it planned to build two to 10 gas wells on property near Logan Ferry and Saltsburg Roads. The next month, Murrysville officials formed a task force to begin work on an oil and gas drilling ordinance. However, Range Resources never completed its application to drill, said Jim Morrison, chief administrator.
The task force recommended a 23-page ordinance in September that would restrict drilling to three regions of the municipality and regulate sound, traffic and other aspects of drilling. Last week, the planning commission recommended the ordinance to council, asking members to review the noise regulations more closely.
The proposal calls for drilling noise not to exceed the ambient level by more than 5 decibels during the day and 3 decibels between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
During the fracking process — when drillers blast rock with chemically treated water — those numbers normally increase to 10 decibels during the day and 5 decibels at night. Pitzarella said his company has used sound barriers to keep noise within municipal limits.
“Members of the planning commission really (aren’t) well-enough educated in noise to further make any changes in the ordinance,” said Jayne Hoy, a planning commission member. “We think the task force should take another look at the noise section of the ordinance.”
Last week, council scheduled a public hearing on the ordinance for Wednesday. The hearing, which will take place before the council meeting, will be broadcast on cable Channel 19.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer with the Murrysville Star.