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Franklin Park Borough Council Votes 4-2 Against Fracking Lease Deal With PennEnergy

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FRANKLIN PARK (KDKA) -- The debate over fracking moved closer to the city of Pittsburgh Wednesday as Borough Council in Franklin Park brought the issue to a vote. It came after months of discussion, and a lot of public input.

Ultimately, the council voted 4-2 against a lease deal with PennEnergy.

The deal would have given the borough a $285,000 down payment and then an 18 percent royalty for all gas extracted from under Linbrook Park.

Before the vote, Council heard a myriad of arguments from concerned residents.

"Wells Fargo and those guys that were rolling the dice, they will fold the shell company, and they will bankrupt it," said James Wilkinson of Franklin Park. "Who will be left holding the bag for a superfund clean-up of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars? Boroughs like ours."

Dr. Rock Heyman, M.D. had a different concern.

"There are too many things not known and the risks are proven," said Heyman. "Do we as a borough want to be part of the fracking business, which is what we would be if we are leasing property to them."

Franklin Park would not have had any well pads. Under the proposal, the PennEnergy wellheads would have been placed about 3/4 of a mile away in Economy Borough, Beaver County. The wells would have drilled to a depth of 5,000 to 9,000 feet, and then accessed the gas in Franklin Park by drilling approximately two miles horizontally under Linbrook Park.

Some residents in favor of the lease deal repeated what PennEnergy has said -- that it is possible to bypass the surrounding gas without signing a lease deal.

"Gas does not respect property lines," said Virginia Komer, of Sewickley.

Her home borders Linbrook Park. She says they have been approached many times about selling their mineral rights. They waited to see what Franklin Park was going to do.

She warned council, "When they frack, the gas will be taken from the park and from our property, so we lose both the gas and the financial benefits and are left with nothing."

Other concerned residents cited medical reports and talked about issues pertaining to drinking water and potential dangers from fracking.

One of them was Amanda Miller of Franklin Park.

"Let's talk about the fact that the Pennsylvania Medical Society's 16,000 members have called for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling as a result of health concerns," she said.

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