Fitzgerald's Statement on Legislation to
Read Fitzgerald's Statement on Legislation to Ban Drilling
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 10, 2022
Amie M. Downs
PITTSBURGH – County Executive Rich Fitzgerald issued the following statement regarding Council’s public hearing last night on legislation to ban drilling in county parks:
“I oppose the legislation being considered by Council which is the subject of today’s public hearing.
“This premise that a ban keeps me or any other executive from authorizing drilling in our parks ignores the very documents that our government was founded on. Focused on transparency and good government, the Home Rule Charter and Administrative Code ensure that no one decision maker would have the power or authority to make decisions like this alone. Instead, they provide that discussions related to county property are left to those leaders in power at the time to deliberate in full view of the public and with public participation.
“That is the process that was followed when last we deliberated drilling adjacent to the parks - not in it. Over eight years ago, there were leases for drilling on every property surrounding Deer Lakes Park. After extensive public hearings, conversations with stakeholders and with the support of the governments of the impacted municipalities, council approved an ordinance allowing the county to reach an agreement that provided unprecedented protections for the community. It required air and water monitoring, placed limitations on noise and light pollution, restricted truck travel when schools were in session, provided for workforce development opportunities, and resulted in extraordinary investments in our parks and natural resources - protections, safeguards and benefits that would not have occurred if the county were not a party. None of it was done in a vacuum or any back room, but in full view of the public, on both sides of the issue.
“The first opportunity considered by the county was an ordinance that authorized the airport authority to enter into agreements to allow drilling on some of the thousands of acres at the airport. Without that deal, the airport would have been bankrupt. There would be no flights, no cargo coming in or out, no reimagining of an airport to serve Pittsburgh, no dynamic leader, no Neighborhood 91 to further spur economic activity there, and no opportunity for continued economic growth.
“I would make both agreements again as they were the right things for the county at that time.
“I wholeheartedly endorse and support energy independence and a move from fossil fuels to sustainable, clean energy, but we can’t flip the switch and make that change. We must create that path forward. We want to be a leader and a partner to make that happen. It’s why the county has invested in the building of a hydroplant, has worked towards net zero parks, has purchased alternative fuel vehicles, and has a division focused on sustainability across all of our departments.
“Natural gas is part of that path. It has lowered our carbon footprint. It’s a piece of cleaner energy options including hydrogen. Everything we can do here to innovate and grow green jobs helps us travel that road to sustainable energy, but it’s not automatic and bills like the one being considered by Council are not rooted in that reality.
“Let me state emphatically: we have no plans to allow any drilling or related activity in any of our parks. With that being said, future administrations and councils should be allowed to evaluate what’s best for the county and its residents on a case by case basis and to deliberate that publicly. Anything else is not good government.”