Consol Energy started drilling into the Marcellus shale natural gas basin near the airport Aug. 15. A formal launch ceremony began Monday for what's expected to bring more than $1 billion in revenue for the region.
"This is a good way to utilize public lands, public assets, to benefit the public," Rich Fitzgerald, a county-level leader, said Monday. He added, "This public-private partnership, if you will, this arrangement, is going to be very beneficial," especially for the airport.
Consol plans to drill at least 47 wells on a 9,000-acre site owned by the county near the airport. Fitzgerald said some of the revenue will make its way back to the airport in terms of debt restructuring.
Critics of hydraulic fracturing say noise and water pollution are growing concerns, but local managers say complaints so far have been "minimal."
The U.S. Energy Department said gas production from the Marcellus play passed 15 billion cubic feet per day in July for the first time ever.
The shale basin accounts for nearly 40 percent of all U.S. shale natural gas production.