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Controversy Over Fracking At Deer Lakes Continues

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) - As the fracking at Deer Lakes public hearings wind down, the Allegheny County Council has to make a decision on what to do.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald supports fracking at the park and is ready to get started, while some members on the council are still unsure.

Allegheny County Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh voiced her opinion that drilling might be a good idea, but says it's her responsibility to look at all the positives and negatives before making a decision. In a previous conversation with KDKA's Mike Pintek, Fitzgerald called Heidelbaugh an obstructionist, an opponent of drilling.

Heidelbaugh refuted the remark, explaining that she is simply following her due-diligence by upholding the responsibilities given to her by the State Supreme Court.

She said she feels Allegheny County residents deserve the right to find out the benefits and potential harm that could come from this decision.

Heather Heidelbaugh Part 1

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Act 13 was brought to the supreme court with the proposed idea that there would be a uniformed state-wide zoning law; that was denied and the zoning rights were left in the hands of local municipalities. That's where Heidelbaugh says the court inserted a policy requiring a thorough examination of the good and the bad when selling land or property that is owned by many citizens.

"We're going to put zoning decisions back into local hands and when people are considering, when legislators are considering whether to sell assets, whether they be coal, methane gas, regular gas, minerals, you must, because we have a part of the constitution that says we must protect the environment," said Heidelbaugh. "You must consider all of the good that will come from the sale of the assets and potential bad.

Heather Heidelbaugh Part 2

(Photo Credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Heidelbaugh believes her question asking is what upsets Fitzgerald, but she says she is just interested in finding out answers. She added that this is the largest lease and permanent sale of assets in county history and it requires a detailed examination.

She admits though that she doesn't think drilling will affect the nearby farm and park, but she knows that environmental groups don't feel the same way. Her major concern now is if the residents are receiving the proper amount of money for their assets.

Heidelbaugh doesn't claim to be an expert and isn't saying Fitzgerald is wrong, bit she is allowing an independent party give a legal perspective on the situation.

"I have to keep an open mind, the law requires it. I'm keeping an opened mind, it's different from being on the fence," said Heidelbaugh. "I have to hear all the evidence and then I'm going to look at this, that's what the law requires."

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