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Friday, October 7, 2016

Could Officials Be Prosecuted in Towns That Adopt Fracking Bans?

From Powersource:
Since Pittsburgh banned fracking in 2010, more than 100 municipalities have introduced their own ordinances to limit or completely prohibit oil and gas extraction, pipelines, or waste injection wells. 
And while those that have been challenged in court have generally failed, Kevin Moody, general counsel for the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association in Wexford, says the fight is draining and doesn't seem to be deterring municipal officials from attempting to block oil and gas development. 
Maybe criminal prosecution will do the trick, he has wondered. 
It’s a concept he’s been exploring, albeit on the back burner, for several years and Mr. Moody thinks he’s found a fitting criminal statute to try it out. It’s called official oppression and makes it a second degree misdemeanor for a public official to deny or impede someone’s rights or privileges with the knowledge such actions are illegal. The penalty is up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. 
“We think that fits to a tee,” Mr. Moody said, “because these officials are voting for ordinances that are based on a right to self-government that simply does not exist.
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