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Councilman Wants Inventory of County-Owned Natural Gas

An Allegheny County Councilman would like to know how much natural gas lies beneath the county's park system, and exactly how much money that gas is worth.

Councilman Matt Drozd (R-District 1) has introduced legislation calling for an inventory of the county's mineral resources, especially regarding the Marcellus Shale gas formation.

Drozd estimated the county owns millions of dollars worth of gas under its 12,000 acres of parks, but he'd like to get an expert opinion. He said the county could generate revenue through an impact fee on each gas well in the parks. If the county decides to lease park property, Drozd said he'd dedicate at least some of the revenue toward property tax relief.

According to Drozd, there's room enough in the park system to accommodate gas rigs without intruding on well-used public spaces.

"First of all, one park alone is 5,000 acres in itself. So, they're in the thousand range of acreage of parks," said Drozd. "If this is done, we wouldn't drill close to any homes. We'd be very careful of that, so as not to affect the environment."

Drozd said an inventory of mineral properties would also protect the county's interests if the gas beneath county parks is taken by nearby wells through horizontal drilling.

"We've got to protect those mineral rights and gas rights of the people of Allegheny County, because some of this drilling could be done perpendicular, and then you argue later [about] who owned the gas," said Drozd.

The councilman said he knows some people will oppose the effort to drill in county parks, but he said he thinks the majority of residents will support it as an additional source of revenue.