Government
11:30 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

City Council Blasts Senate Shale Bill

Pittsburgh City Council Members sharply criticized state Senate legislation that would set a comprehensive policy for Marcellus Shale exploration in Pennsylvania.

The bill, which is expected to clear the state House soon, would assess an "impact fee" on each Marcellus Shale gas well drilled in the state, and set zoning laws regarding where such infrastructure could be built within municipalities.

Both of those points drew heated words from City Council Members, who unanimously passed a resolution that denounced Senate Bill 1100.

"It's literally taking away the right of local government to regulate our own land use, zoning, and economic development, at the expense of one industry," said Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who wrote Tuesday's resolution. "This is erasing 150 years of jurisprudence off the books."

Rudiak said she's also upset about the level of the impact fee, which levies $190,000 per well.

"[The bill] also siphons away all of our natural resources at a bargain-basement price," said Rudiak. "This impact fee is far below the average tax rates in other gas-producing states. It's good for companies and their stockholders, but it's not so good for state residents."

Council Members Bill Peduto, Darlene Harris, and Patrick Dowd also spoke out against the Senate legislation. Peduto called it the result of "power politics," implying that the wealth and power of the natural gas industry influenced state lawmakers.