Council Member Robinson Issues Statement on Possible Gas Extraction

Activities in or Near Deer Lakes Park 

PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County Council Member William Russell Robinson has issued a statement in the wake of a number of reports indicating that County Council may be afforded the opportunity to consider whether to authorize the leasing of County owned mineral rights for the purpose of extracting natural gas located beneath Deer Lakes Park.

 “I should emphasize at the outset that the County’s Home Rule Charter requires that authorizations of this nature be accomplished by ordinance, and that no such ordinance has yet been introduced,” noted Mr. Robinson.  “That said, published reports would seem to indicate that the Chief Executive is moving in this direction.  I believe that the process that is used - and which has been used by prior administrations - is backwards insofar as it only involves the body with the Charter-given authority to authorize land use at the end.”

While Article V, Section 2(i) of the Home Rule Charter of Allegheny County does grant the Chief Executive the power to negotiate, award and sign most contracts on behalf of the County, contracts relating to land use are specifically excepted from the terms of that section.  The Charter also clearly states that land use can only be authorized via ordinance, pursuant to Article IV, Section 2(k). 

“Despite my concerns about the appropriateness of the process, the Council may still opt to provide the required legislative authorization,” said Council Member Robinson.  “If it chooses to do so, the Council in my opinion owes everyone involved the fullest measure of its due diligence on the issue of M/W/DBE participation.  I fully understand that there is language in the Executive’s request for proposals that relates to M/W/DBE participation in drilling and extraction activities, but I feel that Council needs to thoroughly examine how binding that language is and what it does or does not actually require of a potential successful bidder.”

“As I have noted previously in other contexts, it obviously goes without saying that the County’s African-American population transcends the City’s boundaries,” said Mr. Robinson.  “Issues of this nature provide an excellent opportunity for the County to follow Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Peduto’s example in attempting to formulate a black agenda for the benefit of all its residents.” 

For more information, contact Council Member Robinson at 412-350-6570.

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