In a press release last night, Allegheny County Council approved a mineral lease to CONSOL Energy to allow gas drilling at Pittsburgh International Airport. Federal regulations require the money to be used at the airport so revenue generated from the drilling is expected to make the airport more competitive through upgrades and developing the land. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald stated, “While the revenues from this deal will go directly to the airport, Allegheny County taxpayers benefit too – by reducing business costs for airlines and increasing our airport’s competitiveness, creating a new source of revenue for the airport to make capital improvements and, perhaps most importantly, allowing additional investment in the economic development opportunities in the airport corridor.”
With the Council’s approval for drilling, CONSOL Energy Inc. is permitted to drill and extract oil, gas, natural gas and other minerals from the airport’s land. While job creation is expected, this is underdetermined at this time, but revenues are estimated at a billion dollars for the airport. A press release from the council has only been released. No news has been released from CONSOL or the airport and the meeting minutes are unavailable.
Residents and organizations who disagreed with the drilling were permitted to present concerns to the Council. The main concern with drilling is with the introduction of Marcellus Shale. The process to extract this natural resource involves fracking which has contaminated the water surrounding drill sites nationwide. Marcellus Shale protestors advocated for the Council to deny CONSOL drilling rights as they are concerned about the environmental ramifications. While CONSOL has teams to monitor, control and maintain the guidelines of EPA standards, the water purification standards have created toxic chemicals in other areas where drilling has occurred.
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