Council bans gas drilling in city

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Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously today to ban natural gas production in the city, becoming the second municipality to impose a ban in as many days.

South Fayette commissioners voted Monday to ban drilling in neighborhoods, parks and farms.

Pittsbugh's ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Doug Shields, bans drilling or production activities anywhere in the city.

Since introducing the bill in August, Mr. Shields has become a vocal critic of an industry he considers under-taxed and under-regulated.

The industry has said the ban would be illegal. Mr. Shields, in essence, has said he would welcome a legal fight.

"This is a big step," Mr. Shields said. "I know it is fraught with questions about where this might lead us."

Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade group, also said the ban ignores the jobs and other economic benefits of gas production.

"There's going to be a lot of jobs for funeral homes and hospitals," council President Darlene Harris said, referring to health concerns some associate with gas production. "That's where the jobs are. Is it worth it?"

The vote was greeted with sustained applause from drilling opponents who attended the meeting.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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