Journalistic duty

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It’s a sad day when a PG editorial supports fracking under Deer Lakes Park before obtaining the actual proposal (“Prudent Drilling: The County Has a Good Deal at Deer Lakes Park,” March 24). Instead, the PG simply accepts Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s word that he has negotiated a deal that will provide wonderful benefits for all. Is this what passes for good journalism?

As of last weekend, neither the county law department nor our county council had seen a copy of the proposal, yet council will be asked to consider, debate and vote on it soon. Is this to be a repeat of the airport leasing debacle when council did not see it until just before a vote was forced?

But if Mr. Fitzgerald’s deal contained even half-truths, the PG editors should have recognized some clearly questionable claims. For example, “$3 million a year for as long as wells produce”? C’mon, statistics show that production drops rapidly after the first frack, so the $3 million figure is almost certainly exaggerated. Or, “Range must pay to repave county roads that have been used.” Really, dozens of miles of “repaving”? I find it hard to believe that we will find that in ironclad language.

And let’s not forget Mr. Fitzgerald’s election-era published email to the Marcellus Shale Coalition for contributions, which were quickly met in part by Huntley & Huntley, which owns the gas leases around Deer Lakes Park. Coincidence?

The PG should not have rushed to judgment without a copy of the signed contract. The failure to do so is a failure of public interest journalism.

The PG editorial board should admit it did not perform “due diligence” on Mr. Fitzgerald’s claims and withdraw its support for fracking under Deer Lakes Park until it has seen and fully reviewed the final contract. Anything less is a blot on your journalistic duty and responsibility to Allegheny County taxpayers.

MEL PACKER
Point Breeze


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