Pittsburgh Bans Fracking, Eliminates Some Rights of Corporate Personhood With New Ordinance


photo: Joey Gannon/Creative Commons

Following in the footsteps of tiny Licking Township in taking action against fracking when the state of Pennsylvania won't, Pittsburgh has banned corporations drilling for natural gas within the city limits. As Yes! Magazine reports, the ordinance prohibiting fracking received unanimous support in the city council and was prompted in part by corporations taking out leases to drill under area parks and cemeteries. Drafted with the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which also helped draft the bill in Licking Township, goes beyond just banning natural gas drilling, it takes some very important steps towards reigning in the legal rights of corporations more broadly.

Provisions in the ordinance eliminate corporate "personhood" rights within the city for corporations seeking to drill, and remove the ability of corporations to wield the Commerce and Contracts Clauses of the U.S. Constitution to override community decision-making.

In addition, with adoption of the ordinance, Pittsburgh became the first city in the U.S. to recognize legally binding rights of nature. By recognizing the rights of nature, Pittsburgh is effectively protecting ecosystems and natural communities within the city from efforts by corporations to drill there--and by other levels of government to authorize that drilling. Residents of Pittsburgh are empowered by the ordinance to enforce those rights on behalf of threatened ecosystems.

The bill still has to be signed by the mayor, and as you might expect, drilling companies are expected to challenge the ban in court.

I wonder if this means that the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security now considers all the members of the city council environmental extremists?

Read more: Yes! Magazine
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More on Fracking:
Are Pennsylvania's Fracking Opponents Really Environmental Extremists? Police Think So
Uranium Released by Fracking May Pollute Groundwater
Pennsylvania Township Bans Fracking Wastewater Disposal - Defies State Government

Tags: Natural Gas | Pennsylvania | Pollution

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