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Anti-Fracking and Obligations of an Elected Official

Third in a series

Re “Don’t Count on State to Help with a Ban on Fracking”

Mr. Douglas Shields When anti-fracking consultant Doug Shields was here last month, encouraging and educating environmentalists who share his convictions, he forcefully sought to urge them not to be deceived into thinking fracking will be the inevitable result.

“When you step back and see the bigger field,” said Mr. Shields, “you say, ‘Oh, I see what the game is now.’ You have these distant mirrors to look into, to see what is going on.

“During this (West Coast) tour, I was struck by the fact that the same exact talking points are utilized over and over again. Even landsmen are there trying to secure leases.”

Resorting to his deepest voice, Mr. Shields mockingly emulates a foe. “Well,” he drawls with a smile, “you might as well sign because we are going to drill it anyway.

“They say the same thing in (my native) western Pennsylavnia,” home to one of America’s richest deposits.

“What they say is a lie, but they don’t care. These guys are here to get you to ‘sign here.’ That’s all they want. They get a deal out of it.”

Fighting the pro-fracking forces is hard work, said the former City Councilman from Pittsburgh. He travels the country, enlightening like-minded but not necessarily thoroughly informed activists who fear the scope of environmental fallout and potential health and safety hazards from this stepped-up method of drilling.

He spoke with members of the City Council and other leaders, hoping to convince them that they are the front line, the ones responsible for the main pushback against hydraulic drilling. They should not cast a longing eye at state or federal governments, according to Mr. Shields, because they already have been co-opted by the gas and oil industry.

“It is rigorous, another layer of work to do for an elected official,” he said. “You know, you are dealing with the police, good police, bad police, lawsuits, potholes, how do I balance my budget? Do I have to raise taxes? All these other normal duties of an elected official on a daily basis.

“And then we have this overlay, this massive issue of shell gas extraction, and your community in particular, and what does it mean to your community and to the larger dynamics of the country?”

(To be continued)

Mr. Shields may be contacted at

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