Pittsburgh has long been at the epicenter of global energy production. From the first commercial oil well, just north of the city in Titusville, to America’s rise to the top as the world’s leading natural gas producer, the Pittsburgh region has yielded tremendous influence over the Oil & Gas industry. Likewise, the Oil & Gas has tremendous influence over our community. This influence was readily apparent at the recent public meeting over drilling under Deer Lakes Park on Wednesday, April 2nd.
“Private development will go on regardless” of the extraction of minerals from the park, said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. However, the county stands to gain $4.7 million up front and an additional $3 million for the parks and up to 18% royalties for the life of the lease.
Mr. Fitzgerald was proud to announce “the most comprehensive lease in Pennsylvania or in PA’s history.” His role was to “get ahead of the regulations to do things the right way.” Although drilling company Range Resources has been operating in Fawn Township since 2010, the lease drafted by Mr. Fitzgerald offers greater protections for local residents than most development agreements. However, one speaker noted that drilling is “an industrial process, of course there are hazards.”
Weekly Drilling Report
It was made clear at the public meeting that not only is drilling here to stay, but it’s about to get a lot closer. Deer Lakes Park will be the first of nine county parks to have natural gas drilling take place. This does not include the other 20 wells that Range Resources currently has producing gas just in Fawn Township on private property. For the foreseeable future, natural gas drilling will be impacting our state in positive and negative ways.
In order to help protect the water in Pennsylvania, the DECO Water Resource Management Team is partnering with conservation photographer and environmental advocate Kyle Pattison on a new project called the Weekly Drilling Report. The goal of the report is to post all permitted oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania. If you have enough advanced notice before the drilling occurs, you can take a baseline water test, also known as a pre-drill. This test will give homeowners legal proof of their current water quality. After ground is broken on the drill site and throughout the fracking process, the resident can request subsequent water tests to determine if drilling has affected water quality.
Whether you’re for drilling or against it, we all agree that our water resources should be kept clean. The only way to prove that water quality has been compromised through the drilling process is to demonstrate pre- and post-drill water quality. Test your water before any drilling takes place. Understanding what affects the quality of your water can be a challenge but DECO is here to be your advocate for clean water.