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Corbett, Fitzgerald welcome gas drilling at Pittsburgh International

Aaron Aupperlee
| Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, 12:23 p.m.
Consol Energy Inc.'s pad No. 2 in Findlay is part of the natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Consol Energy Inc.'s pad No. 2 in Findlay is part of the natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Shaler, arrives to a ceremony to mark the start of natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport on Pad No. 2 in Findlay on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Shaler, arrives to a ceremony to mark the start of natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport on Pad No. 2 in Findlay on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Shaler, gestures toward the vertical drill as he speaks at a ceremony to mark start of natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport on Pad No. 2 in Findlay on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Shaler, gestures toward the vertical drill as he speaks at a ceremony to mark start of natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport on Pad No. 2 in Findlay on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.
Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald hosts a ceremony to mark the start of natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport on Pad No. 2 in Findlay on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald hosts a ceremony to mark the start of natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport on Pad No. 2 in Findlay on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.
Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald speaks during a ceremony to mark the start of natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport on Pad 2 in Findley Township on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald speaks during a ceremony to mark the start of natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport on Pad 2 in Findley Township on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald joked he has so many shovels from attending ground-breaking ceremonies that his office looks like a Home Depot, but the ceremony on Monday at Consol Energy's natural gas drilling site at Pittsburgh International Airport didn't add to his collection.

Instead, a nearly 78-foot drilling rig towered in the background.

“We wanted to put it to the best use for the taxpayers,” Fitzgerald said of the airport's nearly 9,000 acres. “This is a win, win, win, win for this region.”

Consol plans to build six well pads and roads on the property and improve surrounding infrastructure. The company and county officials expect the wells to generate $500 million in royalties over the next 20 years.

That money will go toward airport improvements, economic development and lowering the fees airlines pay to use the airport.

“I don't think we're breaking ground on it, I think we're saying, ‘Look at what we have,' ” said Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Shaler, who added that Pennsylvania has its sights set on challenging Texas as the top-producing natural gas state.

Initial drilling preparations at well pad No. 2 began in mid-July.

Allegheny County Council approved the project in February 2013, but it took nearly 18 months to secure permits and approvals from federal, state and local agencies.

“This project was a long and arduous road,” Findlay Commissioner Janet Craig said. “Regardless, we believe, we strongly believe, it was the right road to take.”

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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