On the City Charter Kibosh on Gas Drilling

If you haven’t already listened to this delicious hour of audio (focused squarely on Pitt, Penn State, Southwestern PA and a Mt. Pleasant zoning controversy) then shame on you for six weeks:

Applicable and timely to the point of required listening in light of news that:

First thoughts:

1. “Conceivably” a Charter amendment would be harder to overturn than the mere drilling ban law which Councilman Doug Shields introduced and the City enacted last year.

2. Does this mean that Shields somehow came under the impression that future Councils — perhaps near-term future Councils — will be more amenable to taking advantage of this tremendous, game-changing opportunity for America, for the region and for the City that is clean-burning natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, and all the jobs, revenue, energy independence and energy affordability it will conceivably create?

3. How would such a referendum to ban local drilling fare at the polls here? Could it reach 80-20 in favor? Very few leaseholders in the City, and lots of Democrats excited about their rivers, all conditioned by a popular civic narrative which emphasizes overcoming pollution. Is that part of the impetus — more activism and debate centered around Pittsburgh?

4. Are we witnessing the beginnings of a universe featuring Douglas Shields as the AntiKlaber?

22 thoughts on “On the City Charter Kibosh on Gas Drilling

  1. Minuteman

    They've the done seismic testing – there really isn't much good drilling to be done in the City of Pittsburgh. That's the first thing to understand about this – that there are no drilling plans on the drawing board here.

    So even IF the drilling was good within city limits…there are far too many infrastructure problems involved with getting the frac water to and from city sites, getting the gas piped out, and so on. It's far easier to do all of that in areas where they can just build new roads and pipelines to handle these things…which is exactly what they are doing.

    It may be that Pittsburgh can serve as an activist crucible for the shale drilling debate. If the City of Pittsburgh is banning drilling, modifying their home rule charter, arranging referendums etc., then why can't we do the same here in Bradford or Clearfield County, etc. As such, perhaps it doesn't matter whether industry really is going to want to drill here – perhaps some good things might come of this sort of activism.

    There is a danger as well, though, in focusing so squarely on an area where there are no drilling plans, while industry itself focuses on conducting business everywhere else. Pittsburgh might close for the drilling business, but the real action is elsewhere. The battle lines are out in the sticks, where there is a lot more support for industry, and far less scrutiny.

  2. n'at

    Paper Tiger. Let Shields do it, and while he's at it he can propose the most strict air quality standards for every person (this includes companies now, because companies are people too) since forever divided by infinity – which would make the limitations even smaller and more stricter.

    If Sheilds lived in Hop Bottom or Good Intent, then what he proposes would make entertaining public meetings attended by out-of-towners (this would include Ms. Brown (not the cat)).

  3. Anonymous

    Shields is the biggest waste of a council person to ever sit on the fifth floor. Seriously, what has he accomplished? Anyone? Bueller? There would have never been any drilling in the City anyway and this legislation pretty much cost Pittsburgh having a couple corporate headquarters for oil/gas companies and added tax revenue. But hey, who cares? So long as Doug and his buddy bill get to pass useless bills that do absolutely nothing.

  4. Anonymous

    Heard most of that This American Life expose twice. It is indeed required listening, but not sure why DUQ is playing the show on Saturday AND Sunday. Anyway, go Doug, but what if voters vote down the amendment? Seems like that would provide a lot of fuel, so to speak, to the pro-drilling crowd.

    As an aside, I stayed at a campground near Oil Creek State Park over the weekend and noted a Range Resources sign and gate blocking a road near the Petroleum Center historic site. I didn't think that there is Marcellus up there. Also, there was a big shale drilling PR event going on at the Drake oil well site. Seems likely that the natural gas industry is trying to latch on to the feel-good history of the oil industry in NW PA.

  5. Anonymous

    Shields looking for a legacy piece of legislation
    to crown his useless and unproductive
    legislative career!!!

  6. Anonymous

    At first, I respected Shields, but lately,(2-3 years) what has he done for his district? If he put as much effort into redeveloping, revitalizing and restoring the destraught neighborhood called Hazlewood, he'd be somebody to look up to. He got the gas drilling banned in the city. Move on. I just recently saw that he posted that “Marcellus Shale is THE issue of our times”…really? Are you serious? I truly beg to differ. It's the issue HIS time, since he just committed political suicide thinking he'd outwit Hugh McGough, and now he wants to easily land a job next year in some Sierra Club-esue sitution, no doubt, as a high paid director or such, and wants his current drivel to pave that way. Fight for UPMC to bring the vaccine jobs back to Hazelewood Coucilman, or just do those folks a favor and get the F**k out already!

  7. Bram Reichbaum

    Not a huge fan of having to think that language to myself as I read my blog, especially utilized so aggressively and personally. If I was in a different mood I might delete it, but ehhh … I suppose I invited the fireworks to begin with!

  8. MH

    There would have never been any drilling in the City anyway and this legislation pretty much cost Pittsburgh having a couple corporate headquarters for oil/gas companies and added tax revenue.

    Who knew CEOs of natural resource companies were as high strung the cast of Road Rules? Maybe they should face the camera, wipe their eyes, and say just how much we've hurt them?

  9. Anonymous

    MH – if you think Shields or the City actually hurt the gas industry you are dumber than I thought. More importantly it proves your useless motives. Oooooohhjh, Shields and Kraus and their big bad staffers hurt the gas industry. Yeah right. Stupidity like that is what is hurting the City.

  10. MH

    You misunderstand me probably because you aren't very bright or attentive. What kind of a whiny bitch complains so loudly over nothing? For the sake of argument I will allow this applies to Shields, if you insist it does, but insisting that drilling won't happen in Pittsburgh and that a city as densly populated as Pittsburgh should face retribution for trying to place legal restraints on drilling within its borders is the very picture of a mewling prima donna whiny fancy boy.

  11. Bram Reichbaum

    See, if James Harrison had only called Roger Goodell a “fancy boy,” then his agent could have stayed focused on golf, Sue and Ledcat could have relaxed late last week, and the P-G could have used the space on Sunday to run a great column about why some one doesn't get what all the fuss over Nicki Minaj is about.

  12. Anonymous

    Last week's Hazelwood Initiative meeting featured Sean Logan sweeping up the vaccine plant mess for UPMC. Judging by his remarks, it was clear that, from a political standpoint, responsibility for the plan's failure rests with Corey O'Connor and Mike Doyle, not Doug Shields. City government has been left out of the loop on the project for a couple of years. If anyone needs to get in the ring and fight for the plant, it's Doyle (who didn't even show up for the meeting) and O'Connor.

  13. Anonymous

    If you say so rich10e. I don't remember seeing you at the meeting, and I didn't realize that Sean Logan's word is gold, but anyway, I was mostly defending Doug in light of an earlier comment.

  14. Minuteman

    I think it would have made sense for Shields to be active on the Hazelwood vaccine plant issue. He was spending his time and energy elsewhere…whether he was doing so wisely or not is a matter of debate.

    For a few years it seemed like energy companies would make an impact in downtown Pittsburgh by renting a bunch of office space…but for a variety of reasons they chose the suburbs.

    I find it interesting that in the impact fee/severance tax discussion (yes, another important discussion that Shields and his friends are absent on), impact fee proponents are making it pretty clear that municipalities that ban drilling won't see a red cent. Realistically, even if Pittsburgh avoids drilling entirely, the impacts of drilling will definitely visit upon us…and if impact fees win the day, we'll get no help there.

    Sensible opponents of drilling should develop two avenues of attack – one for the effort of banning drilling, and one for advocating a state-wide severance tax should the ban efforts ultimately fail. The latter has fallen on deaf ears with said opponents, unfortunately.

  15. Minuteman

    The question becomes – by seeking a Charter amendment isn't Shields himself admitting to us how easily the city drilling ban may be overturned? This always has been a state-level matter – that's where activism is most needed, that's where change need to take place. For someone who seems to be positioning for leadership on this issue, he apparently is focused on the short-term…

  16. Anonymous

    “edeveloping, revitalizing and restoring the destraught neighborhood called Hazlewood,”

    Not his job to do that. That's the Mayors office.

  17. Anonymous

    Again, what has Shields done? We know what is against and what he hasn't done, but what HAS he done? Anything?

  18. Anonymous

    Oh okay…it's not a councilman's job to help restore a neighborhood in his district? Then what on Earth is his job? And please don't say to propose pipedream filled legislation all the time. The mayor is to help as well, true, but his job is more macro based than a council member whose aim is supposed to be targeted at representing a cluster of communities. And with that said about the Mayor's help, how about if Shield's quit bickering with that office so much, build a decent relationship so that Hazlewood could be collaborated on? Oh wait…its too late now. Sorry. Again, on many issues I respect Shield's, but such oversight per job description is unacceptable.

  19. Anonymous

    …still reeling from the assertion that “it's not his job” to advocate for Hazelwood. I guess you're right, soon it really WON'T be his job…and District 5 residents will breathe a sigh of genuine relief.

  20. Anonymous

    Well, if district 5 vote for a councilman…ahem, O'Connor, who stands for Hazelewood's stance, then I'm sure they will breathe genuine relief. Nobody living there would benefit from some self absorbed member more concerned with political alliances on council, next career moves, elitist ideaology (even if sheltered under the “progressive” umbrella) and somewhat out of touch social ettiguette. Hazlewood needs jobs, exposure, and community organizing. I think the mayor and his folks would be on board if they were pushed. Hazlewood needs a new pusher.


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