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Drilling under Pittsburgh-area park approved 9-5

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 7, 2014 at 10:26 am •  Published: May 7, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) — County officials in western Pennsylvania approved a plan Wednesday to drill for natural gas under a Pittsburgh-area park over the objections of opponents.

The Allegheny County Council voted 9-5 to allow energy companies Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley to extract natural gas from beneath 1,180-acre Deer Lakes Park from well sites on neighboring private properties.

The vote followed seven hours of testimony and debate, and afterward some opponents shouted "Shame!" at council members.

County executive Rich Fitzgerald called the decision a victory for taxpayers, park users and residents. He said he would sign the ordinance and lease shortly.

The proposal includes a $4.7 million bonus for the county, a $3 million donation to a park improvement fund and 18 percent royalties that 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.

Protect Our Parks said its members were outraged by the decision, and member Gwen Chute said legal action was under consideration to stop the drilling.

Fitzgerald said the county is often sued on contentious issues but he believed the ordinance would withstand any legal challenge.

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