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Allegheny County Council overrides Rich Fitzgerald's veto of bill banning fracking in parks

Allegheny County Council overrides Rich Fitzgerald's veto of bill banning fracking in parks
Allegheny County Council overrides Rich Fitzgerald's veto of bill banning fracking in parks 03:18

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County Council voted to override county Executive Rich Fitzgerald's veto of a bill to ban fracking in county parks. 

On July 5, the council approved an ordinance that bans new natural gas drilling and other industrial activity inside and underneath county parks, but Fitzgerald vetoed the bill when it reached his desk. 

Allegheny County Council overrode his veto on Tuesday with a 12-3 vote.

Before the vote, a passionate public comment session featured people for and against the bill. Those arguing against fracking said it is about protecting parks and the environment.

"This is not a complex issue," Justin Sandherr said. "If we look at the impact of the oil and gas industry across the world, the world is on fire."

WATCH: Briana Smith Reports

County Council overrides Fitzgerald's veto 01:38

Those for fracking said it is about jobs and revenue.

"Don't chase this away," one person said. "Look at Southpointe, look at Beaver County. We need the economic development too. We are doing it safely."

Earlier this month when the council approved the bill with an 11-4 vote, the "no" votes included Councilman Bob Macey, who changed his mind and voted to override Fitzgerald's veto on Tuesday. 

"I listened to my constituents," he said. "I got some phone calls, emails over the last week or so. I try to do the will of the people."

Councilman Sam DeMarco was not swayed and voted against the override. He agrees with Fitzgerald, who said the current bill was not strong enough and needed more community protections. 

"I think the loser here is Allegheny County," DeMarco said. "I believe it's sending a signal to the region or to businesses that we could be closed for business here."

Council members DeMarco, Suzanne Filiaggi and Nicholas Futules voted against the override Tuesday. They also voted against the bill earlier this month.

Dave Callahan, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, issued a statement after the override, saying:

"County Council has put politics ahead of good governance and the sound policymaking needed to attract jobs, drive economic growth and strengthen our environment. It's unfortunate the County has closed the door to future opportunities when the record is clear: we are developing natural gas in a way that protects our environment and grows our economy. Especially now – when our country and world are starved for affordable, reliable, and clean energy – we need to harness our abundant resources to create sustained growth across the region."

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