TribLIVE

| News

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

Washington County OKs natural gas drilling at airport

Email Newsletters

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

Daily Photo Galleries

'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.

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 1:36 p.m.
 

Washington County commissioners on Thursday approved a permit to allow natural gas drilling under the county airport.

The unanimous 3-0 vote opens 135 acres to drilling by Canonsburg-based energy firm Range Resources. The county will receive a $6,400-per-acre lease, or a total of $864,000, plus an 18.25 percent royalty once production begins — a higher price because of negotiating with a large coalition of mineral rights owners.

EQT also was involved in negotiating a deal with the entire coalition, though the Downtown Pittsburgh-based company will not be involved in drilling at the Washington County Airport, said Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella.

No surface rights on the property are included in the deal, and the firms have not given a timetable to conduct drilling.

“We're currently in the planning process,” Pitzarella said. “We plan to drill. The leases are for five years, and we don't plan on letting them expire.”

Washington County since 2009 has collected nearly $11 million from drilling deals on other public properties, including Cross Creek Park and the county fairgrounds, Commissioner Larry Maggi said. Bids are being sought for a drilling contract beneath Mingo Creek State Park.

“It helps us keep the county taxes low,” Maggi said.

Money from previous drilling projects has been spent to improve parks and make repairs to the courthouse and other county buildings.

Commissioners plan to use money from this drilling deal to leverage federal and state funds to improve the airport.

“We're trying to make it a regional player,” Maggi said.

The airport, built in 1947, is on about 400 acres and has 34 T-hangars, 10 corporate hangars and seven aviation businesses. It does not service commercial flights.

Pending projects include refurbishing the terminal building, adding hangar space and repaving the runway, taxiways and aprons. Other possible improvements are planned, such as extending the single, 5,000-foot runway, as part of an airport strategic plan commissioners approved in 2011.

Allegheny County officials last year contracted with Consol Energy to drill for natural gas on 8,807 acres at Pittsburgh International Airport. That deal could bring $500 million in fees and gas royalties paid over two decades to the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Consol is seeking federal approval of its drilling plans in regard to air pollution limits.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Ejections, heated moments mark Pirates’ win over Reds
  2. Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
  3. New Steeler Boykin clarifies remarks about former coach
  4. Pirates notebook: Burnett says ‘surgery is not an option’
  5. After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
  6. Making environmentalism divisive
  7. County council candidates chosen for District 11 ballot
  8. Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
  9. Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
  10. Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
  11. Ability to clog the trenches crucial to Steelers defense