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Moratorium passed for South Newark Basin natural gas drilling

7/13/2012 | Real Estate Blog

Pennsylvania lawmakers recently passed a moratorium on natural gas drilling in the South Newark Basin, a rock formation located in Bucks, Chester, Berks and Montgomery counties. Senator Charles McIlhinney, R-Bucks, was the primary supporter of the moratorium. According to McIlhinney, the moratorium was based on a new scientific study showing the potential of natural gas in the South Newark Basin, highlighting the need to find out where it is and how much is there before drilling.

According to opponents of the law, lawmakers from Bucks County supported the moratorium as a way to placate angry constituents worried about drilling near their homes. This is unfair, opponents argued, when the rest of the state has to abide by Pennsylvania’s new law imposing fees on driller in the Marcellus Shale. That law, known as Act 13, as we’ve noted in the past, allows counties hosting natural gas wells to decide whether to impose an impact fee on drillers, but removes local zoning control over where drilling can take place.

Much debate was had regarding Act 13 before its passage, and there still is. Two Bucks County municipalities have joined in a suit with communities in the Pittsburgh area to challenge that particular part of the law.

The moratorium provides that the state cannot issue drilling permits for the South Newark Basin until 2018, or until the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources completes an impact study and the Legislature provides for a local impact fee.

The need for the new law, as many have admitted, was not particularly pressing, since the Marcellus Shale is a much more attractive drilling location at present.

Source:, “Natural gas drilling moratorium violated Pennsylvania legislative promises,” Michael Macognone & Angela Couloumbis, July 11, 2012