Fixing the Deer Lakes gas lease
Allegheny County Council is considering an ordinance that would approve the leasing of oil and gas rights in Deer Lakes Park to Range Resources. As a member of County Council, I have a duty to evaluate the proposal from the perspective of a steward of the natural and financial resources of the county.
This duty includes analyzing the potential effects on our environment, our assets and the welfare of the citizens of our county. In order to help me to analyze the lease proposal, I hired the law firm of Strassburger, McKenna, Gutnick & Gefsky, with my expense account money, to review the proposed lease. Their opinions and recommendations have been made public.
I firmly believe that development of the oil and gas resources in Western Pennsylvania, and in Allegheny County, is an important component of a strong economic future for our region. I support development of the county's oil and gas resources as a matter of basic fiscal responsibility.
The publicized terms of the proposed transaction with Range Resources would, generally, result in a reasonable balance between the development of assets and the protection of assets. Unfortunately, the actual language of the proposed lease does not reflect the expectations of the public, nor does it adequately protect the public assets. For the reasons that are summarized below, I have prepared an amendment to the proposed ordinance.
County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald has trumpeted the proposed lease as the “optimal” nonsurface lease for the oil and gas rights. The detailed analysis of the proposed lease prepared by Strassburger, McKenna, Gutnick & Gefsky reveals that this is certainly not the case. With that being said, I understand that the negotiation process does not allow for the opportunity to actually obtain an “optimal” lease. However, at a minimum the lease should reflect the public's expectations and protect the public's assets.
My amendment to the ordinance, if approved, will ensure that:
• there must be no use of the roads in the park
• the lease term must only be extended if there is actual production, in marketable quantities, from relevant wells
• without exception, the lessee must operate in conformance with all applicable laws and industry best practices in connection with activities for the relevant unit as well as adjacent properties
• there must be no adverse affect upon groundwater and the lessee must not use water from the park (or from water sources that supply the park)
• there should be no storage of waste liquids on the relevant unit or the adjacent properties
• the bonus payments should be paid on all 1,100 acres that are encumbered by the lease and the requirements for including the leased land in a production unit must be enforceable
• and the county must retain the right to terminate the lease if the lessee defaults.
I urge my colleagues to join with me to approve this amendment, which will provide for the proposed lease to be approved by including basic protections that the citizens of Allegheny County deserve and should expect.
Heather Heidelbaugh, a Republican at-large member of Allegheny County Council, lives in Mt. Lebanon.
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.
- NYC public schools to close on 2 major Muslim holidays
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- Weather causing minor problems in Armstrong
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- Changes on way to table
- Driver in crash sues ambulance driver, New Kensington
- Spirit Airlines puts Chicago on its flight path
- Supreme Court split on Obamacare subsidies
- Cleveland district, including Pittsburgh, shows moderate economic growth in latest Beige Book report from Fed
- Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird Suite’ soars high for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra