Press Release: Hundreds of Residents Warn Against “Living in Dystopia” to Cecil Board Hearing Wednesday

Posted May 8, 2024, by Lisa DePaoli

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Media Contacts: Lisa DePaoli, 412-229-7116, lisa@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org
Arielle Cohen, 516-983-5440, arielle@acohen.llc 


Area residents and homeowners gather to support increase in fracking well setbacks to protect new housing developments and residents.

CECIL TOWNSHIP, PA – MAY 8, 2024 – Hundreds of area residents came together today at an event calling for greater safety at fracking well pads outside a Cecil Township Board of Supervisors hearing on oil and gas ordinances. In the parking lot steps from the meeting room, homeowners called for increases to zoning setbacks for new well pads that would improve area quality of life and reduce pollution in new and existing neighborhoods.

“Cecil Supervisors might want to hold these hearings quietly, but residents are at their breaking point with the danger and nuisance of these wells. People should have a say in whether someone builds a well pad 200 steps from their bedroom,” said Sarah Martik, a resident of Cecil Township and Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ), which helped assemble a coalition of residents and local businesses in attendance at the hearing. “All we’re asking is for common sense from the Board: Increase setbacks and let new homeowners opt-in if they’re comfortable living closer,” Martik continued.

Area residents have previously lobbied the Board of Supervisors to consider the impact of existing setbacks on new housing developments, which are subject to noise, vibrations, and potential pollution when new wells are built within the current limit of 500 feet of areas already zoned for housing. Proponents of a greater setback distance, like the 2500 feet recommended in 2020 report, say nearby wells damage quality of life and increasing setbacks would reduce exposure to noise and other pollution. They point to findings that pollution, vibrations, and vent flares endanger residents living on the border of the existing setback minimum.

“It’s like living in a dystopia when your home suddenly starts to shake apart. Our physical and mental health is on the line, and we can see the impact it has on children who get sick living alongside these wells,” said Janice Blanock, a Washington County resident and founder of Moms and Dads Family Awareness of Cancer Threat Spike (MAD-FACTS). 

The Board of Supervisors hearing convened at 6:00pm the day of the and was live streamed on the internet via Cecil Township’s official YouTube channel

Said Michelle Stonemark, “Homeowners who think they’re moving to a nice neighborhood are being tortured by the noise, the flares, the constant vibrations. We should not be driven from brand-new homes by these new wells. It feels like we’re going backwards when we want cleaner, safer, healthier homes for families in Washington County. Increasing these setbacks is the right thing to do.”

A 2020 grand jury report issued under then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro found that industry leaders, regulators, and the PA Department of Environmental Protection had not adequately protected state residents from the impacts of fracking. The report stated that 500-foot setback rules were “inadequate” and recommended an increase of 2,000 feet alongside criminal indictments for two drilling companies, including Washington County-based Range Resources. 

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