Deer Lakes drilling: Credit county officials for giving people a say

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Not everyone believes Allegheny County should let Range Resources drill for natural gas under Deer Lakes Park in Frazer and West Deer. Some think the chance for the county to earn millions of dollars from a gas sale is too good to pass up, while others fear the environmental risks are too great.

One thing they should agree on, though, is that county officials are giving local residents, wherever they stand, plenty of opportunity to state their opinions. On Tuesday night, Allegheny County Council held a hearing expressly so the public could speak out. About 80 members of the audience took advantage, and they were divided on the proposal.

That came after two other meetings — one last week by county council, at which dozens of people spoke, and one a week earlier that was hosted by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, at which dozens were heard as well. Future council meetings will give the public more chances to state their views.

Another way that the county has been transparent on Deer Lakes drilling is by making the proposed lease available to the public online. Anyone can inspect the specific terms of the deal — which would give Allegheny County a $4.7 million bonus payment, $3 million for park improvements and 18 percent in royalties — at​Lease040814.aspx

In the weeks ahead, county residents can continue to debate whether to drill under Deer Lakes Park, but they should give credit to their council and chief executive for keeping the public in this public issue.

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