‘Protect Our Parks’ in Allegheny County, PA

Allegheny County Council held a public hearing June 9, 2022 on legislation to prevent the leasing of additional county parks for gas production activities, following the non-surface oil and gas lease signed in 2014 for Deer Lakes Park, to allow hydraulic fracturing under the park.
Cancer awareness in Allegheny County Pennsylvania with the fountain in Point State Park dyed pink with a backdrop of the Fort Pitt Tunnels
While 8 votes are needed to pass this new legislation (for a majority on the 15 person council) it will take a 10 vote super-majority to bypass a likely veto from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. 

Link to video replay of hearing (2:32:26)   WPXI News video (2:07)

Written comments are being accepted until 5:00PM on June 16, 2022 here:
Jared E. Barker, Chief Clerk
Allegheny County Council
436 Grant Street, Room 119
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Jared.Barker@alleghenycounty.us
DEER LAKES PARK OIL AND GAS LEASE:
Written comment I submitted by email:

PARK DRILLING
In Washington County, we’ve had some terrible experiences with drilling inside Cross Creek County Park, where many public areas suddenly became ‘No Trespassing.’
May 2009 – DEP documented spill and fish kill in Cross Creek Lake.
February 2013 – A second documented spill in the park that reached the lake.
May 2015 – Fish & Boat investigated a mysterious Crappie & Bluegill fish kill.

WASTE
Alternate Waste Disposal was used to bury drill cuttings from at least 2 wells in the park that had waste with high levels of radioactivity, even though the county’s gas lease clearly stated that “All trash, rubbish, or waste materials from each drilling site shall be removed and disposed of in a properly licensed solid waste site.”

ROYALTIES
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in early-2021 that “all proceeds from the sale of our public natural resources are part of the corpus of our environmental public trust” and that the environmental trustee obligations described in the state constitution apply to ALL levels and branches of government. That means that all proceeds from drilling in or under public parks must be used in the parks, not used to shore up the General Fund, as has been the case with 50% of the royalties in Washington County, PA.

DRILLING NEXT TO PARKS
Drilling is an industrial activity that can, and does, continue intermittently for years on end, as additional wells are added to existing sites. We’re now seeing sites with 40 or 50 wells, unlike the earlier Marcellus shale well pads. Heavy diesel trucking often brings the most complaints, and with over 1,000 truck trips per well, exacerbates the exact air quality problem Allegheny County has had over recent years with particulate matter (PM2.5)  Add to that the fugitive emissions from drilling, fracking, leaks, and failed well casings that develop over time.

NEW WELL PADS bring forest destruction and fragmentation.

MORE WELLS ANYWHERE bring more air polluting compressor stations. Over 40 compressor stations / gas processing facilities have sprung-up in Washington County, PA over the past 15 years, and the cumulative air pollution effects are not being taken into account. Air and water pollution crosses county lines.

HOW ARE FRACKERS DOING IN ALLEGHENY COUNTY?
THERE’S BEEN A STEADY STREAM OF VIOLATIONS!
PA DEP violations are common and numerous on existing Allegheny County well sites. Let’s look at some key areas of the county, referencing the line entries listed under “Inspections” from the PA DEP website:

RANGE RESOURCES sites next to Deer Lakes Park:
Gulick Pad – 10 violations
Bakerstown Road Unit – 4 violations

EQT sites in SE Allegheny County:
Fetchen Pad – 34 violations
Prentice Pad – 46 violations
Oliver West – 14 violations
Oliver East – 16 violations
Rostosky Pad – 6 violations

OLYMPUS sites in SE Allegheny County:
Apollo B – 5 violations
Plutus – 42 violations

CNX at PIT International Airport:
Pad 1 – 8 violations
Pad 2 – 13 violations
Pad 4 – 26 violations

SUMMARY
While advocates in favor of drilling will attempt to play down the environmental consequences if wells are not situated inside the parks, their polluting effects will still extend far beyond those well pads. And by leasing addition ground for drilling, county council enables drillers to drill more wells, thereby multiplying the pollution.

Shale gas wells are extremely short-lived, meaning companies need to get on a “drilling treadmill” to maintain production levels. Take for example the wells drilled at PIT International Airport, where between March 2016 and March 2022, gas production from the 14 ACAA wells has dropped a whopping 96-percent!

Fossil fuels are a finite resource without any sort of logical future.

Photos of drilling and fracking at PIT International Airport:

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