Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Deer Lakes Drilling Planned for End of '14

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Deer Lakes Drilling Planned for End of '14

Article excerpt

Drilling for natural gas beneath Deer Lakes Park could begin later this year, now that Allegheny County Council has approved a plan to lease the county-owned park's oil and gas rights to Range Resources.

"As it relates to timing, if the final lease language is agreed to, we would like to begin by the end of the year," Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said Wednesday.

A representative for Range's partner in the drilling plan, Monroeville firm Huntley & Huntley, told council members last week that the tentative timeline was for production to start in early 2015.

Mr. Pitzarella said Wednesday that it was "unfair to set hard timelines" this early, but said it was Range's plan for the wells to flow to production immediately after they were completed.

It's a timeline that works for the county, said county Executive Rich Fitzgerald shortly after the vote.

Council's 9-5 vote didn't come until early Wednesday morning, after a meeting that lasted more than seven hours and included about five hours of public comment, with the majority of speakers urging council to vote no.

But most of council voted yes. Democrats John DeFazio of Shaler, Nicholas Futules of Oakmont, Michael Finnerty of Scott, Jim Ellenbogen of Banksville, Bob Macey of West Mifflin, Charles Martoni of Swissvale and John Palmiere of Baldwin, along with Republicans Tom Baker of Ross and Ed Kress of Shaler voted yes.

Voting no were Republicans Heather Heidelbaugh of Mt. Lebanon, Sue Means of Bethel Park and Jan Rea of McCandless and Democrats Barbara Daly Danko of Regent Square and Bill Robinson of the Hill District. Amanda Green Hawkins, D-Stanton Heights, abstained.

The scene after the vote was rancorous. People opposed to hydraulic fracturing, many of them members of the group Protect Our Parks, yelled "shame" and protested loudly to council members. Mr. Futules, who swore at a county resident following the vote, on Wednesday apologized.

As for the vote, he said, "I think council members made the right choice."

Mel Packer, a member of Protect Our Parks, said members would soon meet to discuss where to go from here. "We will continue to wage this battle," he said. …

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