FAA OKs Airport drilling

Published by James O'Toole on .

In a boost for one of county Executive Rich Fitzgerald's key initiatives, the FAA has given a green light to natural gas drilling under the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Here's Kaitlynn Riely's report from the main site:

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a "finding of no significant impact" after reviewing an environmental assessment of Consol Energy's drilling plans at Pittsburgh International Airport, according to spokeswomen for Consol and the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Consol, a Cecil-based company, and the airport authority submitted an environmental assessment for drilling to the FAA late last year.

The FAA required the report to identify any potential impacts and mitigation related to drilling at the airport.

Kate O'Donovan, a spokeswoman for Consol, said this morning the FAA had issued its finding. JoAnn Jenny, a spokeswoman for the airport, confirmed that the finding had been issued by the FAA this week.

Consol, which plans to drill for natural gas on about 9,000 acres of county-owned land, has said that all planned wells are a safe distance away from runways and other airport operations.

The Consol plan calls for six well pads, with at least 45 Marcellus and Upper Devonian shale wells and three water impoundments, with initial drilling of wells scheduled to begin this summer.

The deal to drill at Pittsburgh International Airport came together last year, when Allegheny County Council approved a deal between Consol and the Allegheny County Airport Authority. The contract included a $50 million bonus for the airport authority, with $450 million expected in royalty payments over the next 20 years. The plan also calls for about $500 million in infrastructure improvements.

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