PITTSBURGH (AP) – County council members heard testimony for and against a proposal to drill for natural gas under a Pittsburgh-area park, with supporters touting the economic benefits and opponents worried about environmental damage.
The Allegheny County Council is considering a proposal to allow Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley to drill beneath 1,180-acre Deer Lakes Park from well sites on neighboring private properties.
The proposal includes a $4.7 million bonus for the county, a $3 million donation to a park improvement fund and 18 percent royalties county officials estimate would generate $3 million.
Range Resources said the wells could produce natural gas for 30 to 40 years with about half the production occurring in the first eight years.
Many of those who spoke in favor of the proposal Tuesday night highlighted the financial gain to the county and also said the company’s plan was responsible.
“The natural gas is here. Let’s extract it and do what we have to do with it to move this economy forward,” said William Brooks of Carnegie.
State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, called the proposal “safe and responsible.”
But opponents, including members of Protect Our Parks, said they were concerned about pollution and the possibility of accidents.
“Local government doesn’t belong in the fracking business because it needs to protect its residents from the fracking business,” said John Detwiler of Squirrel Hill.
Michael Simms of the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh asked members to consider the impact of natural gas development on the environment.
“Do we really want to turn back the clock to a time when the air was unbreathable and the water undrinkable?” he asked.