PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Public hearings on a plan for gas drilling underneath an Allegheny County Park begin today.
It’s the latest opportunity for public input on an issue that rarely generates apathy.
“It’s going to impact the park, and the people that use it. You guys can stop drilling. You can do that. A moratorium would do that,” said one person at a meeting last month.
The emotion that usually accompanies public hearings about drilling associated with Deer Lakes Park will continue at a public hearing this evening.
At issue is leasing Allegheny County’s interest in mineral rights underneath Deer Lakes Park while prohibiting surface drilling within the park.
Allegheny County Council is scheduled to hold parks committee meetings on the next three Wednesdays to discuss economic factors, safety issues, environmental concerns and legal concerns.
But when asked about the role of public input, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he thinks the tide of public opinion is shifting in favor of his plan.
“I think as we learn, the public learns more about the benefits of what this can do. I think we’re seeing more and more support,” said Fitzgerald. “I would say the public support is overwhelming in favor of moving forward; and certainly, the support up in the community of Frazier and West Deer with both of those government officials, both government leaders of both institutions coming out saying this is something they would like to see because what it does is it enhances an already existing operation. An operation that is already going on in their community will continue to go on in their community, and we’re adding some enhanced benefits – environmental benefits.”
The public hearing at the Allegheny County Courthouse begins at 5 p.m.