Pittsburgh Bans Natural Gas Drilling
Citing health and environmental concerns, Pittsburgh’s city council unanimously passes a ban on natural gas drilling within city limits.
Citing health and environmental concerns, the Pittsburgh, Pa., city council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban natural gas drilling within the city limits. It is the first such ban in a Pennsylvania city.
The 9-0 vote received a standing ovation, according to the Associated Press.
Pittsburgh sits on the Marcellus Shale, the gas-rich rock formation that has triggered a drilling boom in the eastern United States. The drillers use a technique known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which shoots fluids underground at high pressures to release gas from bedrock. ProPublica has written more than 70 articles documenting the hidden costs of fracking.
The Pittsburgh bill was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group.
"Commercial extraction of natural gas in the urban environment of Pittsburgh poses significant threat to the health, safety and welfare of residents and neighborhoods within the city," the ordinance said. "[Drilling] allows the deposition of toxins into the air, soil, water, environment and the bodies of residents."
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who has indicated he opposes the measure, has 10 days to review it before the ban goes into effect. If he vetoes the bill, six council votes would be needed to override him.
Yesterday, the city council in the Pittsburgh suburb of South Fayette passed a zoning ordinance that banned drilling in residential and conservation areas.
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The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.
The Story So Far
The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.