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Parks group wants Allegheny County to put 2-year ban on drilling in an ordinance |

Parks group wants Allegheny County to put 2-year ban on drilling in an ordinance

A citizens group that opposed drilling for natural gas under Allegheny County’s Deer Lakes Park will try to protect the county’s eight other parks.

Members of Protect Our Parks want the county to enact a two-year ban on new natural gas development under park property.

The group submitted an ordinance to county council Thursday along with more than 2,000 signatures requesting the moratorium.

“Several council members, as well as county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, have publicly stated that they do not want to initiate fracking activity in the other parks until there is a thorough evaluation of the activity at Deer Lakes Park,” Joni Rabinowitz, a member of Protect Our Parks who headed the petition drive, said in a statement. “This ordinance will put those statements into law, and we are confident council will vote for it.”

Council approved in May a lease allowing Fort Worth-based Range Resources to drill under Deer Lakes Park from property outside the park. Fitzgerald, who orchestrated the deal, has said he has no plans to explore natural gas development in other county parks. He wants to monitor projects at Deer Lakes Park and Pittsburgh International Airport, where Consol Energy is drilling.

Fitzgerald would veto a moratorium if it passed through council, spokeswoman Amie Downs said.

“The executive believes that a moratorium sends the wrong message and that each opportunity should be reviewed and considered based on its own merits,” Downs said.

Council rejected in November 2013 a three-year ban on drilling for natural gas under county parks.

Protect Our Parks took advantage of a county statute allowing a resident to place legislation on council’s agenda. The group needed at least 500 signatures.

The signatures and ordinance must pass legal reviews by council staff and the county law department. Council then must vote on the ordinance within 60 days.

Several people have attempted to place legislation on the agenda in the past but none succeeded, according to council records.

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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