Three year ban on gas drilling sought by Pennsylvania County Councilwoman

Allegheny County Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko proposed legislation that would create a three-year hold (ending on January 1, 2017) on the development of natural gas beneath county parks in order to investigate concerns and prepare “a comprehensive study” about who holds the rights to the subsurface minerals.

At present, according to the motion submitted to the Council, “it is unclear whether or not the County owns the mineral rights to all County park land and if restrictive covenants exist which bear on the ability to lease those rights leaving the County at risk of a lengthy and costly legal entanglement that could render any royalty revenue moot.”

This request comes after county officials discussed the possibility of allowing drilling in the 1,200-acre Deer Lakes Park. Matt Drozd, another councilmember, has proposed an ordinance that would allow the voters to decide whether or not to have drilling for natural gas under the county’s parks.

These proposed ordinances come after CONSOL Energy Inc. announced in late August its plans to construct nearly 50 natural gas wells on the grounds of the 10,000-acre Pittsburgh International Airport.

In February, CONSOL signed a contract worth an estimated $1 billion with the Allegheny County Airport Authority. CONSOL stated that it would begin construction on six well pads, impoundments and pipelines in the spring of 2014 in preparation for the drilling of two vertical wells in July.

CONSOL is preparing an environmental assessment which must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration before the project can begin.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.