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Councilman Urges Action against State Control of Drilling Law

A Pittsburgh Councilman is urging the city's administration to speak out against state-level bills that would supercede Pittsburgh's ban on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

Councilman Doug Shields said that he plans to introduce a resolution denouncing Senate Bill 1100 and its House companion, and he wants the mayor to do the same.

The two bills are meant to homogenize Marcellus Shale drilling rules across Pennsylvania by preventing municipalities from enacting bans or zoning laws that restrict where industry-related infrastructure can be located.

At a budget hearing on Tuesday, Shields said that the bills would permit the industry to come to Pittsburgh, even if no gas wells are drilled within city limits.

"The complexity of what we're confronted with in Pennsylvania isn't just a well pad," said Shields. "There's midstream operations that can very well come through here: compressor stations, for instance, [and] pipelines."

Shields said that could have an effect on the city budget, because Pittsburgh would need to train its public safety personnel to respond to disasters involving the infrastructure. The equipment might lower property values as well, according to Shields.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl agreed that public safety employees would need to be trained if Marcellus Shale drilling came to Pittsburgh, but he said that he doubts that will be the case.