This is great news for current and future residents of Pittsburgh whose elected officials listened to residents and voted unanimously to ban drilling within city limits! 9 for the ban, 0 against!
This is (finally!) a victory for people over corporate interests and profits.
I am so proud of all the people here who worked tirelessly to educate and mobilize their friends and neighbors and to hold their elected officials accountable. This is so inspiring for community activists everywhere.
To those who attended public hearings despite state and industry intimidation, went to protests, signed petitions, wrote letters to the editor, attended community meetings, went to public viewings of Gasland; to Josh Fox for making the film that exposed so many of the problems with fracking, and to the business owners that hosted meetings and Gasland viewings:
Thank you so much.
As you know…
Thank you to Councilmember Doug Shields for sponsoring the bill banning the drilling, for putting the health of people and our natural resources ahead of money, for prioritizing people over profits.
Thank you to Council President Darlene Harris for supporting the ban and rebutting gas industry claims that the ban would cost jobs: “There’s going to be a lot of jobs for funeral homes and hospitals,” Mrs. Harris said, referring to health concerns associated with gas production. “That’s where the jobs are. Is it worth it?”
The people of Pittsburgh have said no, it’s not worth it, and the City Council listened and voted with the health of the people and the region in mind.
Thank you to all the Councilmembers who voted unanimously to oppose drilling within Pittsburgh.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, however, is unconvinced and non-committal and might consider vetoing the ban, but I urge him to side with the people on this issue and not be swayed by the lure of a temporary influx of cash.
We don’t want jobs destroying our environment, compromising our soil, blackening our air and lungs, and contaminating our drinking water.
We want investment in jobs that build up the community, that nurture and educate children, that beautify our lovely city, that bring people together, that make the most of our natural resources, rather than trashing them for short-term financial gain.
Mayor Ravenstahl, do not veto this bill.
Support this ban and support the people of Pittsburgh.
This story has gone global and it demonstrates that ordinary citizens do have the ability to stand up to wealthy private interests.
How to work towards a drilling ban in your own town?
Although drilling in the Marcellus Shale is expected to generate revenue in the trillions, Pennsylvania’s Governor elect Tom Corbett pledges not to tax the companies who are extracting this gas at great profitability, saying “A tax right now I don’t believe is appropriate”. He also concludes that taxing would “chase these companies away.”
Personally, I say, okay. If they are unwilling to pay the state and the people of Pennsylvania for the resources that they take and profit from — they shouldn’t be here.
One thing is certain, Pennsylvanians need the money.
The city of Pittsburgh is in a constant state of budget crisis, public transportation is being slashed by 35%, the pension fund is not funded and social services in every realm are being eliminated. The state capital of Harrisburg is on the verge of bankruptcy and the city of 50,000 is $280 million in debt (NY Times).
Leslie Haines, Editor of Oil and Gas Investor, stupidly asserts that “If they [Pennsylvania] do too much of a tax, people will go back to Texas, or they’ll go to Colorado and Wyoming or they’ll go to Alberta, wherever.”
But that is simply not true. They can’t leave — there is too much natural gas sitting under Pennsylvania for drillers to pass up.
I encourage you to watch these two videos produced by the Real News Network.
The town of Dimock, Pennsylvania is a sickening example of what happens when we allow corporate profits to take precedence over human need. Cabot Drilling of Houston is accused of poisoning the drinking water resulting in high levels of methane, iron and aluminum.
“In the last year Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has determined that Cabot was responsible for several spills of diesel fuel and drilling mud and for an 8,000-gallon leak of hydraulic fracturing fluids being prepared by a contractor, Halliburton, that seeped into a fresh water stream in September”.
(See ProPublica for more information on the town of Dimock)
But on Wednesday, November 3, people from around the country gathered in Pittsburgh on to speak out against the destruction of our water, our air, and our land for cheap natural gas and for the profit of a few at the expense of many.
“Thank you Pittsburgh! Thanks to you the rally was a HUGE success. An incredibly passionate and diverse group came out today, young and old, urban and rural, coming from states as far as California and as close as Ohio. We all came together to protect our constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment and to protest the exploitation of our environment and ourselves by the gas companies.
If you weren’t able to make it today then stay tuned because this is only the beginning.
There is much work still to be done and yesterday’s election certainly didn’t make things easier, but this an issue that affects everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, income, or political affiliation and we at PSEC strongly believe that it’s an issue worth fighting for. In the words of Margaret Meade, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Common Dreams: ”Pennsylvania has a total of 46,055 square miles. Approximately 75% of our state – 34,000 square miles – sits on Marcellus Shale. Within the next 10 years, the gas industry plans to cover this area with up to 100,000 Marcellus wells. That’s 2 – 3 wells per every square mile in our state,” said Debbie Borowiec, a resident of Westmoreland County, PA. “We should be switching to clean, safe, renewable energy sources, not destroying our state for gas.”
Note: This piece was first published by Gloria Forouzan in the Lawrenceville-Bloomfield community newspaper The Bulletin.
In Pittsburgh, gas drilling in the Marcellus shale has recently become big news. Why?
1. It’s in our backyard. The Marcellus shale is a region of natural gas reserves that extends through much of Pennsylvania. To date, drilling has occurred in rural area, but now drillers are turning their attention to urban areas.
2. Money. Gas in the Marcellus range is estimated to be worth 3 trillion dollars.
3. “Landsmen,” who try to get residents to sign leases allowing gas drilling, have been making the rounds in Lawrenceville, where at least 60 drilling leases have already been signed. Over the last two years, millions of gas industry dollars have been appearing in our state’s legislators’ campaign coffers.
4. Danger. Gas wells in Clearfield and Dioga counties, as well as Moundsville, West Virginia, had major accidents in June. One explosion caused toxic drilling fluid to spew 75 feet into the air for 16 hours. Imagine such an explosion within Pittsburgh’s densely populated neighborhoods.
What can we do about it?
Get the facts. The gas industry tells us that they’ve been drilling for decades.
What they’re not telling us:
Today’s gas drilling must go deeper than ever before, fracturing shale 7,000 to 8,000 feet under the ground (A mile is 5,280 feet).
A new process called “fracking” is used to extract the natural gas. “Fracking” takes millions of gallons of our clean water and mixes it with sand and dangerous chemicals. This mixture is forced into the well under much higher pressure than ever used before.
First the well is drilled down vertically to a depth of at least 7,000 feet. From this main well it’s drilled horizontally in several directions. It winds up looking like an underground spider of gas lines that can extend up to a mile. A well on the banks of the Allegheny could easily reach into most of residential Lawrenceville.
Currently, there are few federal or state protections regulating the gas industry’s use of our land, water, or air. The gas industry has been spending millions to lobbky our state representatives and senators to keep them from regulating and taxing natural gas. Most Pennsylvania cities have too little recourse to limit drilling.
What can you, as a resident, do?
Talk to a lawyer before signing a lease. Landmen are not there to protect you or do you a favor. They’re working on behalf of a multi-trillion dollar industry.
City Council plans to hold a public meeting on the issue, most likely in September. Call Patrick Dowd’s office for the details: 412-255-2140.
Talk to your state legislators: Rep. Dom Costa, 412-361-2040; Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, 7171-787-5470; and Senator Jim Ferlo, 412-621-3006. Let them know that you’re watching and you vote.
Ask the gubernatorial candidates for their stance on urban gas drilling. As of May 2010, Tom Corbett’s campaign received $361,207 from the gas industry and Dan Onorato’s received $59,300.
Want some more information?
Check out these sites for more information and to join your neighbors in opposing this devastating procedure that makes money for a few while destroying the resources of the many.
If you’re a Pennsylvania resident, you can sign this petition which simply states “We the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania call for a complete moratorium of all natural gas and oil drilling activities, including exploration, until a time when the processes involved do not affect the environment (including land, air and water) and the health of the population in any negative manner what so ever.”
For a fun way to find out what other communities have done in the face of natural drill leases, check out Frick Park on August 27. Local organizers are putting together a screening of the movie Gasland on August 27 in Frick Park.