| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Ferlo to hold town hall meeting on fracking in parks

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

If you go

What: State Sen. Jim Ferlo's town hall forum on fracking in Allegheny County parks

Where: Highlands Middle School Auditorium, Broadview Boulevard, Harrison

When: , 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By R.A. Monti
Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 1:51 a.m.

For state Sen. Jim Ferlo, there's nothing more relaxing than being able to drive a few miles out of Pittsburgh and visit an Allegheny County park.

But the Highland Park Democrat, whose district winds through the Alle-Kiski Valley, fears his relaxation spots may soon be marred.

“These are pristine parks that people value greatly,” Ferlo said. “To leave your urban core and be able to go out and enjoy nature is priceless.

“If we allow fracking in our parks, they will change. I don't think people realize that.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is used to squeeze natural gas from Marcellus shale about a mile below the earth's surface.

Because of his concerns about fracking in Allegheny County's parks, Ferlo will hold a town hall meeting on Wednesday night in Harrison.

“The (natural gas) industry has spent millions of dollars in propaganda,” he said. “In Pittsburgh, you can't watch a television show without being inundated by paid advertising from certain coalitions.

“I hope this meeting shows people the other side,” he said. “The goal of my meeting is to have a creative forum where our side can be heard and show how life will change from the practices of the industry.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald opened up bidding for the right to drill in Deer Lakes Park on Sept. 27. Those bids were due by Oct. 25, but Fitzgerald's office has refused to disclose details about the bids.

Fitzgerald's office did not return calls for comment on this story.

The county potentially could get $40 million to $96 million if it allows drilling, a Tribune-Review analysis found.

“I respect and have the privilege of working with our county executive but the fact of the matter is, we part issue on this,” Ferlo said. “The (gas) industry always attacks folks who care about our quality of air, our quality of water. They want to create the sense this is no big deal, fracking.

“It is a big deal.”

Felrlo said he understands the allure of the county cashing in on its parkland, but believes the cons outweigh the pros.

“You're talking about an idea where roads have to be created, and (public) roads are destroyed,” he said. “Everyone of these wells is a mini-steel mill in terms of its pollution output.”

Erika Staaf, a Clean Water Advocate for PennEnvironment — which is teaming with Ferlo to host the town hall — said the nonprofit is excited about the opportunity to talk about the downside of fracking.

“It's important that we make sure the public has all of the information and access to what it means to drill in our county parks,” she said. “We don't want a rush to drill without true public participation.”

Staaf said fracking poses multiple environmental hazards. “This issue cuts across every environmental category,” she said. “Ground water, surface water, air quality, the quality of life nearby to where fracking is taking place.

“I mean, the whole process of drilling the well, disposing of waste water, readying the gas, processing the waste. At every phase, there is potential for harm to the environment or health.”

Like Ferlo, Staaf said her group advocates putting a moratorium on drilling in the state until more research can be done on potential hazards.

“Can gas development be done safely?” she asked. “If it can be, we haven't seen it done in Pa.

“We have to look at cumulative impacts — not just the immediate economic benefits.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read AlleKiski Valley

  1. Avonmore mayor to resign after being charged with theft
  2. ATI reveals details of contract offer to steelworkers union
  3. HBO to end ‘Banshee’ series, disappointing Vandergrift
  4. Surveillance video shows Fawn tire shop burglar
  5. Multiple delays to slow travel between Alle-Kiski Valley, Greensburg
  6. USW workers to march on ATI headquarters
  7. Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley offers free services at clinic
  8. High-rise medical visits aimed at curbing 911 calls in New Kensington
  9. ATI workers retire early to ensure pension
  10. Memorial court dedicated at AVH where volunteer felt ‘safe, comfortable’
  11. Arnold woman heads to trial in prostitution case