Marcellus Drilling in ACORD Municipal Park (Allegheny County, PA) Voted Down by Local Councils

The Avonworth Municipal Authority in Allegheny County, PA recently signed a five-year drilling lease for the ACORD Municipal Park property controlled by the Authority (see the MDN story here). However, the deal was contingent on four of the five municipalities that oversee the 119-acre park in Kilbuck and Ohio Townships. Last night Emsworth council was the second municipality to vote against the measure and so the deal will not go forward.

Ohio Township council approved the drilling deal April 4. But after the agreement attracted opposition from numerous residents, the Ben Avon Heights council unanimously rejected it at its meeting Tuesday. The other two councils — Kilbuck and Ben Avon — have yet to address the issue, and probably don’t need to.

"It’s a moot point. The deal is [void]," said Avonworth Municipal Authority chairman Ed Gould, who signed the lease two weeks ago. He said he will send a letter to Energy US today informing the leasing company of the decision.

Mr. Gould said he signed the lease and voted for it at the authority’s meeting Thursday so that it could be brought before each of the municipalities and their residents to decide.

"I was for bringing a business opportunity to the attention of the community to make a decision whether they were for it or not by using their elected representatives," said Mr. Gould, who praised the way the council members handled the matter. "The citizens spoke."*

The deal offered the following terms:

The five-year lease with Energy US would have paid the authority $2,500 an acre for the rights to take gas from below the park, plus a 15 percent royalty on gas sold. If gas were produced within five years, the lease would have automatically been extended.*

*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Apr 14, 2011) – Emsworth nixes gas drilling in park