Oil and gas operations within Erie present challenging and complex issues with many willing to highlight the problems but few with the vision to execute a plan that will balance community rights with mineral rights. As the next Mayor of Erie, I will champion a middle-of-the-road solution where the Town of Erie will be tough with operators but acknowledge that any reasonable progress on this issue will necessitate a collaborative approach.
The first pillar of my plan as Mayor is to make clear to operators that Erie is watching operations closely to ensure that operators are following the rules and understand that violations will be pursued aggressively. In 2015, the Town’s Finance Director estimated the Town of Erie would receive ~$550,000 related to oil and gas operations. I believe these annual revenues derived from oil and gas operations are prudent and appropriate to be invested in solutions that protect Erie residents.
As a practicing engineer myself, I know that O&G operators have large teams of talented engineers with the capabilities to make improvements to their processes and equipment to make the experience better for residents. The second pillar of my plan as Erie Mayor will be to press operators within Erie to bring their best ideas forward to Erie and match their best technology to the locations with the highest likelihood of resident impact. There is no doubt in my mind that we all can do better than the status quo.
The third pillar of my plan as Erie Mayor will be to continue expanding Erie’s available toolset to ensure operations are safe and respectful to Erie residents. Examples of the tools Erie will pursue and build out include legal representation with tailored knowledge of what initiatives the Town can and cannot implement and information gathering initiatives such as obtaining pipeline mapping from operators to ensure new developments are built safely.
The fourth pillar of my plan involves a continued presence at the state level. While Erie is just one voice out of many in the state it is important for the state legislatures to continually hear about our concerns and struggles with oil and gas operations in Erie and how their rules (or lack thereof) affect our residents.
My plan for managing oil and gas within Erie was not constructed in a vacuum. The ideas I have compiled are a confluence of my experience negotiating directly with oil and gas operators in Erie for four years, countless visits down to the State Capitol to voice my concerns on Erie’s behalf, working with elected officials from neighboring communities to collaborate on best practices and the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours studying this issue.
I am confident that I am best suited for Erie to move beyond empty campaign rhetoric and navigate Erie through the complex and challenging issues with outcomes that are net positive for both the economy and residents of Erie.