Share This Page

Opponents line up to speak against fracking on Allegheny County park land

| Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 11:30 p.m.

Opponents of extracting natural gas beneath Deer Lakes and other Allegheny County parks urged County Council members Tuesday to ban drilling on county park land before a proposal reaches their desks.

“Fracking on any level is a dangerous practice. Fracking waste, the noise, the water that is taken from our drinkable water supply, the compressor stations and the exposure of our wildlife to these open pits of toxins, these do not belong anywhere, let alone near our parks,” Carrie White of Fawn, a member of Fawn Against Marcellus, told council. More than 50 signed up to speak at the meeting.

County officials are weighing an offer from Huntley & Huntley Inc. to extract natural gas under Deer Lakes Park from wellheads outside the park's borders. It could be months before council considers a proposal to permit drilling. The park spans West Deer and Frazer.

“We need to have our voice heard now,” said Jennifer Myers of Lawrenceville, a member of the Protect Our Parks coalition. “We need to interrupt them even getting it on the agenda.”

The county could receive $40 million to $96 million if Monroeville-based Huntley & Huntley teams with Range Resources to drill for natural gas under Deer Lakes, a Tribune-Review analysis found. Initial offers involving three wells could generate between $5 million and $8 million for the county, money that could go toward maintaining county parks, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

“We're going to take a look at it and see if it makes sense for the taxpayers,” Fitzgerald said. “All of our parks are in dire need of improvements.”

Huntley & Huntley wants an answer from Allegheny County by year's end, said Michael Hillebrand, executive vice president. Fitzgerald did not anticipate a problem with meeting the year-end deadline.

“This is one of those kinds of issues that people get excited about,” Council President Charles Martoni, D-Swissvale, said before the meeting. “It's something that could maybe create a lot of wealth in the region and it could potentially devastate the region.”

Protect Our Parks contends the Wagman Observatory at Deer Lakes would be “crippled” by light pollution. It asked for public hearings on the matter.

Last week, members of council and Fitzgerald toured Cross Creek County Park in Washington County, where Range Resources drills. Council Vice President Nicholas Futules, D-Oakmont, was impressed by the drilling operation and what Washington County was able to fund with money from drilling.

“We'll be able to pave roads. We'll be able to put up pavilions and grandstands,” he said.

Staff Writer Tim Puko contributed to this story.

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.