Westmorland County, PA Joins Local Landowner Coalition with Aim to Allow Drilling on County-Owned Land

Commissioners for Westmoreland County in western Pennsylvania have voted to join a local landowner coalition with the very real prospect of negotiating a lease that will allow drilling on county property that includes an historic site dating to 1773.

The unanimous vote did not directly authorize a lease for any company drill at the more than 140-acre property on which the Historic Hanna’s Town tourist attraction sits. The town, established as the first county seat west of the Allegheny Mountains, is operated by the Westmoreland County Historical Society.

"We’re looking at all properties so we can explore the natural resources on behalf of taxpayers of Westmoreland County," said Commissioner Charles Anderson.

The commissioners said no deal to lease the land was imminent, but attorney John Ward will handle negotiations for the county and nearly two dozen surrounding private property owners.

Those owners and the county will negotiate as a group with oil and gas companies that wish to lease land to install deep well drilling platforms to harvest natural gas from the lucrative Marcellus shale formation.*

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Mar 25, 2011) – Westmoreland County part of shale group