Allegheny County set to Stone-Cold Drill its Parks

Slant-drill, that is:

Drilling activity, including the well pads, water storage and truck transportation, will occur on private property outside the park boundaries, Fitzgerald said. (Trib, Aaron Aupperlee)

Style points, there. Alhough noise will inevitably intrude.

What is the logic behind this?

Drainage, Eli! Somebody else is going to drink that milkshake anyway, is the concept, not to mention poke copious holes in the earth. This way at least the public gets to dip its hats into the filth and scoop out several millions of dollars.

But what is this about “assurances”?

The county will require surface water testing 1,000 feet beyond the 2,500 feet of a well site required by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, he said.

The county will also require pre-drilling testing of surface waters every three months before drilling begins, and then again every six months until drilling is complete. The lease also requires coordination with local property owners regarding noise and light pollution, and he said Range Resources, a Washington County-based energy company, will coordinate with the Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes to prevent light interference.

The lease also will require Range to limit truck traffic on school bus routes and to enter into road maintenance agreements with local municipalities, Mr. Fitzgerald said. Once drilling operations are completed, Range must pay for the repaving of the county roads they have used, he said. (P-G, Kaitlynn Reily)

They’re punching enough tickets to illustrate we’re doing this thoughtfully.

Oneavenue to explore is brainstorming additional, superior, above-and-beyond data-collection and monitoring as part of this lease. Surely Range would understand we are an optimistic and individualistic people, keen on innovation and admiring of excellence.

Another focus of attention is the race for Governor of Pennsylvania. The state runs something named the Department of Environmental Protection; it could be strengthened to help regulate things even more tightly. And though local control over drilling matters has been restored, sometimes it is not closely attended.

A third focus is County Council of course, in advance of this vote to approve any parks drilling lease. Political theater can be enlightening.

Finally, this is an outstanding period in which to raise the subject of “open data” and data openness at the County level. That is a very bipartisan issue, and interest in County governance runs high of late. Balancing the needs to exploit economic opportunity and to protect our children’s inheritance will require a steady stream of solid information.

BOTTOM LINE: Here we go. And you thought theNew PittsburghNext Pittsburgh was all bike trails and leafy canals.

4 thoughts on “Allegheny County set to Stone-Cold Drill its Parks

  1. MG Guy

    Everything’s future tense. How about the drillers “coordinate”, enter into agreements and pay for the roads NOW, before the county signs off? Good luck chasing them down later. Just ask the property owners who have been screwed on royalties or had their water fouled.

    1. MH

      Yes. It’ll be like a West Virginia after the poisoning the watershed. The fault is always on some subcontractor with no money and the profits already went to somebody else.

  2. Connor Sites-Bowen (@connorsb)

    Re: Open Data

    Something like might be a viable way for citizens to engage – do water testing themselves, on an ongoing basis, as long as, of course, any unusual data immediately reaches the ears of the County and State EPA, who use the baseline readings as a guide to where-to-investigate.

    This is a tricky situation, data-wise, because even though civilian tools are plenty capable of finding unusual spikes in data (and in some cases might be superior to testing tools bought a decade ago from the lowest bidder, etc, etc), any actual legal or preventative or punitive action might not be able to rely on “a bunch of random water testing nerds with a google map”.

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      ^^This is killer.^^ Any knowledge or foreknowledge might still spread alarms in time to motivate site-specific crisis-preventing responses, or to move the needle on regulatory responses across the Marcellus play. And meanwhile we’re training the next generation of knowledge workers. I hope this becomes a big deal.


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