Pittsburgh Bans Drilling of Marcellus Shale

Pittsburgh Drilling Protesters Cross Rachel Carson Bridge

Pittsburgh Bans Natural Gas Drilling


PITTSBURGH, PA – November 16 – Today, the Pittsburgh City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance banning corporations from conducting natural gas drilling in the city.

The ordinance was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) at the invitation of Councilman Bill Peduto, and was introduced by Councilman Doug Shields.

Pittsburgh’s first-in-the-nation ordinance confronts the threat of Marcellus Shale drilling – an activity permitted by the state which allows corporations to site drilling activities over the wishes of a community.

Energy corporations are setting up shop in communities across Pennsylvania, to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation. The gas extraction technique known as “fracking” has been cited as a threat to surface and groundwater, and has been blamed for fatal explosions, the contamination of drinking water, local rivers, and streams. Collateral damage includes lost property value, ingestion of toxins by livestock, drying up of mortgage loans for prospective home buyers, and threatened loss of organic certification for farmers in affected communities.

Councilman Shields stated, “This ordinance recognizes and secures expanded civil rights for the people of Pittsburgh, and it prohibits activities which would violate those rights. It protects the authority of the people of Pittsburgh to pass this ordinance by undoing corporate privileges that place the rights of the people of Pittsburgh at the mercy of gas corporations.”

Shields added, “With this vote we are asserting the right of the city to make critical decisions to protect our health, safety, and welfare. We are not a colony of the state and will not sit quietly by as our city gets drilled. We encourage communities across the region to take this step and join with us to elevate the rights of communities and people over corporations.”

CELDF’s Ben Price, who is engaging with communities across the state seeking to protect themselves from drilling, said, “Communities are coming to recognize that our state laws and government are not in place to protect their interests, but rather the interests of private corporations.”

Price applauded the city for taking a stand on behalf of community rights. “Some will say that the municipality doesn’t have the authority to ban this noxious practice associated with gas drilling. The only way that’s true is if the state has the authority to strip the residents of their rights, and it doesn’t.”

Under the ordinance, corporations that violate the ordinance or that seek to drill in the city will not be afforded “personhood” rights under the U.S. or Pennsylvania Constitution, nor will they be afforded protections under the Commerce Clause or Contracts Clause under the federal or state constitution.

In addition, the ordinance recognizes the legally enforceable Rights of Nature to exist and flourish. Residents of the city shall possess legal standing to enforce those rights on behalf of natural communities and ecosystems.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has been working with people in Pennsylvania since 1995 to assert their fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, and to enact laws which end destructive and rights-denying corporate action aided and abetted by state and federal governments.

5 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Bans Drilling of Marcellus Shale”

  1. I hope the industry boycotts Pittsburgh completely. They should not support an area that passes unconstitutional laws and does not want them, despite the fact they are in desperate need of economic development.

      1. If you read the facts the drillers do not even have a permit for the city. However, they are spending millions each year for conference, meetings, rental space, etc.. They should go somewhere else where people have common sense. Maybe there is somethng in the water Shields and his cronnies are drinking?

  2. The drillers and other industry will be back in Pittsburgh. The resolution may slow them up enough to think about consequences for awhile. If there is something in the water it may be in part due to the environmental impact of previous industrial and mining activity in the area. By that I mean our area has long been impacted by environmental stress and it has put a lot of effort into recovering from that.

  3. The idea isn’t to destroy business and industry but to bring it into perspective where the people of local communities have control or perhaps better put take responsible stewardship of their environment and assert their ascendancy or more properly nature’s ascendancy over the power of corporations.

    The above mentioned Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, may well be worth investigating and pursuing with its support of Rights of Nature and a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

    Chambersburg Declaration

    It may also connect somehow into something called the Chambersburg Declaration… And in fact a google search leads to its inclusion on their website at http://www.celdf.org/article.php?id=696 under a heading entitled “Our Work” “On Saturday, February 20, 2010 citizens from more than a dozen counties met in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania to initiate plans to convene a Pennsylvania People’s Constitutional Convention made up of delegates from municipalities across the state. The idea is to have the people gain control of their local communities and to take the lead over corporations.

    Read them to get a better idea of what is going on. I have only recently learned of them. A hundred or so communities from a dozen or more counties in Pennsylvania want to get together to redo the Pennsylvania Constitution. Maybe that convention isn’t at first practical but coalitions around many related issues might eventually be able to check effectively the spirit or intent behind this January 2008 declaration from then Attorney General Thomas Corbett’s office in Commonwealth Court: “There is no inalienable right to local self-government.”

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