Legislation that would ban drilling for Marcellus Shale within Pittsburgh city limits has been held for three weeks to allow bill sponsor Doug Shields to set up a post agenda meeting. Shields hopes to bring in a panel of experts to give council more information about how the ban would work. The ban was the subject of an emotional public hearing this week and while most council members are in favor of the idea, most, like councilman Patrick Dowd, also believe it will eventually lead to a lawsuit being field against the city. The measure seems to run afoul of state law. Dowd says he wants to hear from the city’s legal department about how they will defend council’s position. During today’s City Council meeting Councilmen Bill Peduto and Doug Shields noted that they have been contacted by the Chambersburg based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Peduto says the group’s the Projects Director, Ben Price, seems to be willing to cover the city’s legal costs. Shields was unwilling to expand on his conversation with Price. Councilman Dowd says he has never been contacted by Price and he demanded to know more. Shields says he will learn more during the post agenda meeting. Council hopes to be able to hold that informational meeting some time in the next three weeks. Dowd says his goal is to “look after the health, safety, and well being” of all Pittsburghers and since he has “serious concerns” about the safety of shale drilling he is not in favor of it happening in the city or in any part of the watershed that feeds into the city’s drinking water supply. However, he says he is not always able to do what he wants, “Passing a ban, I think, is what we all want, but what we want is not always the right thing. I love to eat greasy foods but if I want to live to be 90 that’s not the right thing.”
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund did not return calls for comment on this story.