The Affirmation of the proposed referendum on November 8, which would direct the City of Warren to amend its Home Rule Charter to prohibit extraction of natural gas within the City as well as prohibit the storage, deposit or transfer of by-products of the extraction process "within, upon or through the land, air or waters of the City of Warren" is strongly opposed by the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry (WCCBI).
What began as neighborhood opposition to a speculative development project which would have included a treatment/recycling facility for "frack" waters from Marcellus Shale activities, has grown into a potential death sentence for both existing and potential future investment and employment opportunities throughout Warren County.
While we empathize with the concerns held by these residents, we assert that the proposed referendum will have far reaching negative consequences across Warren County, the extent of which none of us are able to predict. The WCCBI supports collaborative discussions to ensure placement of any new industrial operation in the most appropriate location within the community based upon both the needs of the operation and the impacts the operation will have on adjacent properties.
The Marcellus Shale Play which has been redefining the economies of many Pennsylvania communities over the course of the last several years, continues to grow towards the Northwest corner of the state. With reports of the Utica Shale formation, which lies below the Marcellus Shale formation, being an even more prolific source of natural gas, and the quality of the Utica formation in our area being more robust than the Marcellus, it appears that in time Warren County will also be directly involved in the deep gas extraction and processing industry.
The proposed amendment would place the City of Warren in the exclusive position within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the only municipality forbidding by-products of this industry to as much as cross its borders. This prohibition goes well beyond a single water treatment facility. This amendment would eliminate all of Warren County from consideration for any future business operations which could and will necessarily be developed to properly and effectively manage these by-products.
We support appropriate control and protection of our community and our environment while actively seeking to benefit from the jobs and economic development opportunities that the natural gas industry will continue to offer Warren County. This can best be achieved by thoughtful dialogue within the community about using existing tools and laws, such as zoning, and collaborating with our state legislators. WCCBI is, and will continue, working with other organizations to ensure such dialogue occurs. Ill-defined, universal prohibitions to future employment and investment opportunities for Warren County is neither prudent nor justified.
We encourage the citizens of the City of Warren to vote NO to the referendum.