Pittsburgh Councilman Introduces “Toxic Trespass” Legislation

Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields has been a tireless anti-drilling crusader (see previous MDN stories here). Fortunately, he leaves office at the end of December—he didn’t run for re-election. But before he goes, he wants to take one parting shot at the drilling industry.

Yesterday, Mr. Shields introduced “toxic trespass” legislation, which is designed to try and stop drilling in other locations by inferring they may release chemicals into the environment that will find their way to Pittsburgh via rivers and streams and therefore Pittsburgh will sue them out of existence if they get even a whiff of something they don’t like. Nice way to go out Doug…

Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields wants to hold Marcellus shale drillers and entities — including state government — responsible for potential air and water pollution generated by natural gas extraction.

Shields on Monday introduced what he called "toxic trespass" legislation. It targets Marcellus shale explorers who permit the release of chemicals associated with fracking and government entities that allow pollution that results from shale drilling. The legislation contains civil penalties and summary criminal prosecution of violators.

"If waste streams are going to be allowed to come into the city gates and come into our lives, then we need to give (Pittsburgh residents) standing to file their own lawsuits, and the city of Pittsburgh as well," said Shields of Squirrel Hill, who last year sponsored legislation, which council passed, banning Marcellus drilling within city limits.

Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition in Cecil, said in a written statement that coalition members are committed to the safe and clean extraction of natural gas and no longer take frack water to treatment plants. She described the legislation as politically motivated.

"The public health of our communities is critical to the sustainability of our industry, which is why we are committed to the safe production of a clean energy resource that will become even more important as we enter the cold months ahead," she said.*

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Nov 15, 2011) – Pittsburgh councilman again takes aim at drilling