Pittsburgh Bans Natural Gas Drilling

For Immediate Release

Pittsburgh Bans Natural Gas Drilling

PITTSBURGH, PA - 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. 

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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.

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