Fracking foes speak against drilling in Allegheny County parks
By Mary Ann Thomas
Published: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 1:01 a.m.
A town hall meeting on Thursday evening in Harrison attracted more than 100 people who are concerned about a fracking proposal in Allegheny County parks, particularly Deer Lakes Park in West Deer and Frazer.
County officials are considering an offer from Huntley & Huntley Inc. to extract natural gas under Deer Lakes Park from wellheads outside the park's borders.
State Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Pittsburgh, who also represents portions of the Alle-Kiski, sponsored the town hall meeting at Highlands Middle School that featured a panel of people opposed to fracking in Allegheny County parks, including representatives from Penn-Environment and the Pipeline Safety Coalition.
“The urgency of this problem cannot be overstated,” said Ferlo, who is calling for a moratorium on state-issued fracking permits.
Marcellus gas well drilling uses hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” That entails pumping water, sand and secret chemicals under high pressure in order to crack shale about a mile underground. That releases the natural gas trapped within the rock.
Opponents of the practice are concerned about the amount of air and water pollution caused at the drilling sites, as well as the extra truck traffic and potential degradation around the drilling areas.
Ferlo doesn't deny the economic benefits of tapping into the Marcellus shale but wants more time to study the impact. He's adamant about opposing such operations affecting the county parks, which see an estimated 12 million visitors annually.
Allegheny County's nine parks are treasured for their beauty and were set up as a “country club” for average working people, Ferlo said.
Speakers at the meeting took issue with well operations potentially fouling the air for park users, especially children, who are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution.
Kathryn Strang, 8, of Frazer said, “Why are we using a community park as a means to get money instead of a park?”
Kathryn, her sister and some other local children have formed their own chapter of Earth Kids to volunteer and focus on environmental issues.
Denise Garrott from Cowansville is concerned about well operations close to other public places such as schools.
“There is a deliberate risk to our children and to our schools from an unhealthy industrial practice without any protection or monitoring,” Garrott said.
The town hall meeting reviewed some of the nuts and bolts of the issues, such as legalities surrounding drilling near county parks.
One of the speakers, Lynda Farrell, executive director of Pipeline Safety Coalition, noted that there weren't a lot of gas pipelines near most of the county parks, which could make the areas less attractive for Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, who opposes fracking near county parks, said she expects the county council vote on allowing the drilling will be “very close.”
She expects Executive Rich Fitzgerald to enter legislation for the fracking near county parks in the next three months.
Danko recently entered legislation calling for a three-year hold on drilling under county parks to first study the impact of such projects.
Ferlo said he believes the issue is still in play, as council hasn't decided about the drilling proposal.
Ferlo expects residents concerned about the drilling to show up at county council's next meeting on Nov. 6 in Pittsburgh.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man to face DUI-homicide trial for Route 28 wreck
- Steelers score with Springdale fundraiser
- Alle-Kiski car dealers ready for thaw
- Leechburg biology teacher earned students’ respect
- 4 men to stand trial for home invasion, shooting in Lower Burrell
- Wreck closed Leechburg Road in Lower Burrell early Friday
- Latest Guys Run Road crash prompts Harmar to ask for stop sign
- New Kensington man charged with scrap metal theft
- Deer Creek mine discharge project should be wrapped up by late spring
- Tarentum woman sentenced to 3 years for writing bad checks
- Allegheny Township officials seek more support for waterline project