I thank Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for conducting a local meeting regarding gas drilling and Deer Lakes Park.
Environmental extremists from outside the area attended the meeting and were an uncivilized minority. Their behavior stole valuable time from residents wishing to speak. It was very clear that many reasonable people believe fracking seven miles below Deer Lakes Park represents a safe proposal.
Residents need a living wage and employer-provided benefits, not government or charitable benefits. Yet environmentalists' passion for animals and plants triumphs over the needs of our unemployed or underemployed residents. This is blatant hypocrisy — I bet most of them earn well above “the living wage” and have good benefits.
Natural gas extraction can result in an economic boost to our area, with important person-centered provisions. We must ensure area residents are first for job hiring. Residents hired by drilling companies should enjoy employer-provided educational benefits, either college or vo-tech. If the drilling job is temporary, employment should include guaranteed trade union apprenticeships after it ends.
I enjoy the beautiful serenity of Deer Lakes Park almost daily, but unlike environmental extremists, I cannot turn a blind eye to area residents who need good jobs. Extremists need to re-evaluate their moral compass and be as passionate for the economic health of the residents as they are for the health of Yogi Bear, Wile E. Coyote and Bambi.
The Rev. James
The writer is the pastor of Transfiguration Parish in Russellton.
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