Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Monday October 17, 2011
Many officials hold leases with shale drillers
By Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
During a contentious meeting in South Fayette last week, the township’s zoning hearing board delayed a decision about a challenge mounted by gas driller Range Resources after calls for several members of the board to recuse themselves from discussions because they have signed gas leases with the Texas-based driller.
“It cannot be more clear to me that it’s a conflict of interest,” said South Fayette solicitor Jonathan Kamin, who wants zoning board members to recuse themselves so supervisors can appoint alternate members to hear Range’s response to a recently approved gas well drilling ordinance.
“I can’t imagine that they’re voting in the best interest of the community and that’s what they’re supposed to do,” said Keith McDonough, a spokesman for the Friends of South Fayette citizens group. “They should be avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.”
A review undertaken by the Post-Gazette shows that the circumstances in South Fayette are far from unusual.
In Washington County, which has seen heavy gas well drilling in recent years, 27 percent of local elected officials have signed drill leases.
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