They appear to be digging in their heels by refusing to spend any of the $1.1 million that was received by the County and Connoquesessing Township in impact fees to be spent on impacts associated with natural gas production.
Below is MOB's response to their statement and comments made at their meeting on Feb. 6, 2013. Parts of this statement were read at the Feb. 20, 2013 meeting. The Commissioners did not comment.
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First, at the meeting, at the Feb. 6, 2013 meeting Mr. McCarrier and Mr. Pinkerton refused to answer a question that was posed to the Commissioners asking whether or not they, or members of their immediate family, have taken any contributions or gifts from the gas industry; benefitted from a business relationship with the gas industry; or leased land for gas drilling. In the published statement the Commissioners further note, “Chairman William McCarrier is not the Vice-President, nor does he own or retain a position at Interstate Pipe and Supply Company.” However, MOB has found evidence in Bizapedia and in a bio of Mr. McCarrier printed in the Valley of Reading, PA Freemason newsletter dated November 2008, that demonstrates the McCarrier family has and continues to have business ties with the oil and gas industry though companies such as Interstate Pipe & Supply Co., Morrow Drilling Company, and McCarrier Oil Co. MOB membership believes it is incumbent upon Mr. McCarrier to fully disclose his past and present connection to these or any other enterprise that participates or benefits from gas drilling.
Second, in their statement the Commissioners quote the 13 subsections of Act 13 § 2314(g) which lay out the ways in which the Impact Fee may be spent; however, they ignore the header for section (g) which states “A county or municipality receiving funds under subsection (d) shall use the funds received only for the following purposes associated with natural gas production from unconventional gas wells within the county or municipality” (emphasis added). This language makes it clear that the Impact Fee must be spent to cover the costs of impacts associated with natural gas production.
Third, we would like to address the Commissioners’ call for the people of the Woodlands to organize. The reality is that with no help from the county or township, those affected in the community have organized a water bank to do that which Rex Energy, the Commissioners and the Supervisors have refused to do. These residents have reached out to churches, non-governmental agencies, and advocacy groups to fill the need of their community raising funds and gathering donations to support their community. To insinuate that they have not is insulting to their hard work. The reality is that public utilities are not organized by individuals or neighborhoods, rather these public services are undertaken at the municipal level because the cost and scope are so large that they are best handled by local government.
Member of the Woodlands communities and other stakeholders have repeatedly asked to meet with the State Rep. Brian Ellis, the Butler County Commissioners, Connoquennessing Township Supervisors, Rex Energy, and Pennsylvania American Water and they have been systematically turned away each time. Furthermore, community members were barred from attending a meeting in August held in Brian Ellis’ office between Rep. Ellis, the County Commissioners, Township Supervisors, and Larry Lambo from Pennsylvania American Water. They had to wait until September, when a few members of the community were invited to meet with Mr. Eckstein.
Fourth, at the meeting Chairman McCarrier suggested that out of state signatures did not concern him and Mr. Eckstein suggested that there were few signatures from the area. As of Feb. 17, 2013 there were 1,144 signatures. 844 of those are from the state of Pennsylvania, 200 of which are from Butler County. Others come from former county residents and supporters of the Woodlands who live as far away as Germany. Rather than being dismissive, the Commissioners should recognize that the reputation of Butler County as a family and community-oriented place to live, where the wellbeing of all its citizens, is relevant to the future of our County. We are not a closed society.
Fifth, the Commissioners suggest that those who signed the petition would help more if they donated to White Oak Springs Church to support the water drive. Many of signatories have been donating since the water bank began in early March of 2012. Marcellus Outreach Butler held a water drive on March 1, 2012 and a fundraiser for the Woodlands on December 8, 2012. The former event collected over 300 gallons of water for the affected families, and the latter event raised $3,900 to fund the water bank. The three Commissioners were invited to the December 8 fundraiser; they did not attend. It costs over $400 a week to keep the water drive functioning. Private citizens have picked up this bill each and every week. To insinuate otherwise is being dishonest.
What have the Commissioners done to support the Woodland’s efforts? Mr. Eckstein generously donated 20 gallons to the water drive. We applaud his generosity, however, this amount will only serve a small family for one week. Have McCarrier and Mr. Pinkerton organized a water drive at St. Fidelis? Has Mr. McCarrier requested a donation or support from the Freemasons?
The document concludes with the following statement; “We believe UNITED we can get the job done, but DIVIDED we will fail.” What the Commissioners are really telling to the Woodlands families is, “You are on your own.” We strongly urge the Commissioners to exert the appropriate power of municipal government to solve this problem and to do so quickly.