Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in back room deal to
allow more gas development in State Forest lands
PITTSBURGH, March 12, 2013
DCNR must seek public input
PITTSBURGH, March 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- PennFuture has confirmed
through Right to Know requests that the Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources (DCNR) is in advanced negotiations with Anadarko Petroleum to allow
new gas development operations in the Loyalsock State Forest. The area at
risk, known as the "Clarence Moore lands," has great ecological and
recreational significance and includes the Exceptional Value watershed of Rock
Run, the Old Loggers Path, and the Devils Elbow Natural Area, and is a
National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Area. PennFuture has also
filed appeals with the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records of the DCNR's
refusal to make public Anadarko's proposed development plans and maps.
Although Anadarko and other third parties own or control the oil and gas
rights beneath these lands, the DCNR has exclusive control of most of the
surface area due to an unusual provision in its land deed. As a result, the
DCNR has the power to prevent any development from taking place there.
Under the Pennsylvania Conservation and Natural Resources Act, DCNR may not
grant a right-of-way over state forest lands unless it determines that it is
in the interest of the Commonwealth or its citizens.
"It is impossible for DCNR to make an informed determination concerning the
public interest without public participation," said Steve Stroman, policy
director for PennFuture. "PennFuture and a coalition of conservation,
recreation, fishing, and hunting organizations has asked the DCNR to open a
public comment period on Anadarko's development proposal since DCNR has a
legal duty to conserve and maintain State Forest lands for the benefit of all
Pennsylvanians, including future generations. To date, our request of the DCNR
DCNR itself concluded in its 2010 study ("Impacts of Leasing Additional State
Forest for Gas Development") that "there are zero State Forest Land acres
suitable for [additional] gas leasing involving surface disturbance." For DCNR
to allow surface disturbance on state-controlled Loyalsock State Forest lands
would be a de facto lease, and to do this without any public input would be
"The DCNR has a unique opportunity to protect these lands," said Mark Szybist,
staff attorney for PennFuture, "and the public deserves a say in what is in
the public's best interest."
PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization, founded in
1998, with offices in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre.
PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and
in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative
action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens
in public advocacy.
The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental
advocacy organization;" the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization
"one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling;"
and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across
the state, called PennFuture "the commonwealth's main environmental advocate."
Contact: Elaine Labalme firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)
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