Allegheny County Council asked to move forward on natural-gas drilling at Pittsburgh International Airport

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County Executive Rich Fitzgerald will be asking Allegheny County Council to move forward the process for shale gas development on county-owned properties at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Drilling for natural gas on the airport’s more than 9,200 acres was a major part of Fitzgerald’s candidacy for county executive in 2011. In December the Allegheny County Airport Authority decided to negotiate the drilling rights with Consol Energy, according to the Tribune-Review. The deal could bring a potential $250 million to the county and includes $20 million in up-front cash and the rest in potential royalties.

Fitzgerald told City Paper’s Lauren Daley that having the Marcellus Shale deposits in the region has been like “winning the lottery for the region.” Fitzgerald said extraction must be done safely and the environment cared for in the process. He says having the acreage at the airport for drilling is a good thing.

“We own 9,000 acres at the airport that no residents are living on; 9,000 acres where there aren’t any schools around,” Fitzgerald says. “It’s an industrial area … it’s a brownfield site for the most part.

“We can use some of that Marcellus Shale money to build out that infrastructure — put in sewer lines, water lines — to attract more companies here.”

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