United States Steel Corp. Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. A narrow win in Pennsylvania helped decide the presidency for Trump in 2016, ending a two-decade-long winning streak in the Keystone State by Democratic presidential candidates. Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden leads the president in Pennsylvania by 4.3 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics' average of recent polls.
Justin Merriman / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Fracking project at US Steel Plant denied local permit extension
Reid R. Frazier is an energy reporter for The Allegheny Front, a Pittsburgh-based public media outlet covering the environment in Pennsylvania. His work has aired on NPR and Marketplace.
A controversial natural gas well at a US Steel Plant near Pittsburgh suffered a setback Thursday night. The East Pittsburgh Borough zoning hearing board denied an appeal by a fracking company to have a lapsed permit for the well reinstated.
But the company didn’t drill the well because it did not receive permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection to begin work. In several deficiency letters sent to the company, the DEP outlined problems with the company’s plans.
The local conditional use permit expired earlier this year, but the company appealed to have it extended. The East Pittsburgh zoning board voted by a 3-2 margin Thursday night to deny the appeal.
It was a victory for some local residents and environmental groups who have been fighting to have the project killed over health and safety concerns. The Edgar Thomson facility is one of Allegheny County’s largest polluters.
“We are sick and tired of our lives being put on the line in order to make profits for giant corporations,” said Megan McDonough, Pennsylvania Organizing Manager at the group Food & Water Action, in an emailed statement. “Not only had Merrion never drilled a well in Pennsylvania, they could not even fill out the permit paperwork correctly.”
US Steel spokeswoman Meghan Cox referred all comment to Merrion.
Ryan Davis, operations manager for Merrion, said the project was a “win-win” for the company and the community, since a portion of the well’s state “impact fee” would be re-distributed to surrounding municipalities.
“There will be funds generated for the local municipalities from the impact fees and the project helps support local jobs,” Davis said, in an email. “Merrion is very proud of this project and intends to continue to move forward.”
The company’s attorney, Harlan Stone, said Merrion will appeal the decision in state Common Pleas Court. “This is not the final word,” he said. “Just one step in what promises to be a very long and drawn out legal process.”
Climate Solutions, a collaboration of news organizations, educational institutions and a theater company, uses engagement, education and storytelling to help central Pennsylvanians toward climate change literacy, resilience and adaptation. Our work will amplify how people are finding solutions to the challenges presented by a warming world.