As expected, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald vetoed Bill No. 12162-22, a measure that would prohibit all surface and subsurface leases in eight of the nine county parks.
“Rich Fitzgerald’s veto was not a surprise, but it is still disappointing,” said Food & Water Watch organizer Robin Martin. “Fitzgerald’s explanation for his veto is confusing, but what it tells us is that he is committed to standing in the way of those of us who want to protect our county from the dangers of fracking. Thankfully, the community leaders who worked so hard to build support for this ban, and the lawmakers who championed it alongside us, are not backing down.”
“Allegheny County Council did the right thing in listening to their constituents and casting a historic vote to protect county parks. We’ve come too far, and the stakes are too high, to stop now,” said PennEnvironment Clean Air Advocate Zachary Barber. “It’s time for Council to do to cement this bill into law.”
The measure passed in a lopsided 11-4 County Council vote on July 5, which is one vote more than the minimum needed to override the veto, and lawmakers have vowed to vote to override the veto during a special meeting held sometime this summer.
“Rich Fitzgerald has shown once again that he is on the side of industry, rather than the community. Not one person who has contacted me from any district has asked that we frack our parks– all have told me to ban fracking any way possible. All we keep hearing are excuses to have profits remain the priority over people’s health, safety, and welfare. My colleagues and I are dedicated to returning any special meetings called by President Catena for a veto override vote, and to vote yes (again) for this bill,” said Allegheny County Councilmember Bethany Hallam.
Hallam added: “I didn’t introduce this bill because I thought it would be easy; I introduced it because this is the right thing to do. We knew all along that the only way to protect our parks would be to overcome the executive’s veto, and fortunately the overwhelming support of Allegheny County residents has put us in position to do just that. I intend to do whatever it takes to preserve our beloved parks.”