Group’s proposed fracking moratorium for Allegheny County parks to go on council agenda |

Group’s proposed fracking moratorium for Allegheny County parks to go on council agenda

A citizens group opposed to drilling for natural gas under Allegheny County’s parks succeeded in placing a two-year moratorium before county council.

County solicitor Andrew Szefi and council Chief Clerk Jared Barker certified that the ordinance and petition submitted by Protect our Parks complied with county law, according to a letter Barker sent council members this week.

The ordinance will appear on council’s meeting agenda on Tuesday.

At least eight groups have tried to place legislation on council’s agenda since 2000 but none succeeded, according to council records. Petitions must have at least 500 signatures and ordinances must pass a legal review.

The ordinance calls for a two-year ban on drilling under eight of the county’s nine parks. Council in May approved a lease allowing Fort Worth-based Range Resources to drill under Deer Lakes Park in West Deer and Frazer.

Protect Our Parks gathered more than 2,000 signatures from people supporting the ban.

“It seemed like anywhere our people went with a petition, they found folks eager to sign,” said John Detwiler, a member of Protect Our Parks. “We think we’ve tapped into a real groundswell of support for a wait-and-see approach to the future of fracking at county land.”

Council President John DeFazio, D-Shaler, will likely send the ordinance to a committee for further debate. Council must vote on it within 60 days.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has indicated he would veto the ordinance if council passes it because it sends the wrong message. He has said he has no plans to drill under the remaining parks, wanting to monitor projects at Deer Lakes Park and Pittsburgh International Airport, where Consol Energy is drilling.

“If he wants to veto something that essentially plays his own words back to him, then he can explain that message,” Detwiler said.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or [email protected].

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