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Freeport Area School Board considers drilling proposal

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By George Guido
Thursday, May 15, 2014, 12:56 a.m.

The Freeport Area School District is set to allow drilling for natural gas on vacant land that it owns.

The school board on Wednesday night heard a proposal by Renee Anderson of the Tucker Arensberg law firm dealing with an undeveloped, 30-acre plot of land adjacent to the South Buffalo Elementary School that “has the potential of being leased.”

MDS Energy would drill the wells and the school district would be in line for royalty payments of 15.5 percent should natural gas be found.

No drilling would be done on the elementary school property.

But if a Marcellus shale well is drilled, horizontal fracking as far as a mile below the surface could go under the elementary school. The company also may decide to drill a conventional gas well instead.

Anderson cautioned that gas wells drilled in that area have come up empty.

“It's a fairly good royalty since it's a dry well area,” Anderson said.

School district Business Manager Ryan Manzer said the school board plans to vote in June.

Such moves to extract natural gas from beneath public land have been controversial. Many protested Allegheny County's decision this month to allow gas to be extracted from beneath Deer Lakes Park in Frazer and West Deer.

• The school board thanked student representative Hayley Davis for her two years of service as a liaison between the school board and the student body.

George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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