Natchez needs drilling ordinancePublished 12:05am Friday, January 18, 2013
Is it the role of the Mississippi Oil and Gas Commission to ensure that every well drilled in the state is drilled at the lowest possible cost, eschewing local ordinances?
If you follow the controversial approval of the second well by the oil and gas commission on the historic Arlington property, the answer is yes.
The logical extension (and business opportunity) of this position is: wells on the bluff, in our parks, along our thoroughfares, in shopping center parking lots and potentially in the front yards of other historic properties.
The denial of the RMB Exploration application by the Natchez Preservation Commission on Feb. 9 simply denied that location and that plan.
The company’s representative, Mike Biglane, readily acknowledged that directional drilling was possible from a different location, but that it would cost more — money he did not want to spend. In my opinion, that cost will be borne by others — the neighboring homeowners and the community at large.
The City of Natchez currently has no ordinance addressing drilling new wells in the city limits.
The planning commission will review a PUD and site plan application for the Arlington well next week. No matter the outcome, RMB Exploration will drill now that he has the state commission approval.
A consultant has been hired to guide the city through the planning ordinance revision process.
The time is ripe to include a well-written and well-conceived ordinance which will have the protections this city deserves and also offers opportunity for drilling.
Drilling ordinances are commonplace in municipal codes. If an ordinance is not included in the revised ordinance, our environment will be shaped by the lowest possible drilling cost and by decision makers in Jackson without accountability to you and me.
I serve on the Natchez Historic Preservation Commission, but these comments represent my personal opinion and not those of the commission.