Office of Open Records: DCNR must make public Anadarko's Loyalsock State Forest development plan

   Office of Open Records: DCNR must make public Anadarko's Loyalsock State
                           Forest development plan

PR Newswire

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 24, 2013

Redacted comments due October 13 may shed light on plan

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania
Office of Open Records (OOR) has granted in part a Right to Know Law (RTKL)
appeal by PennFuture concerning Anadarko Petroleum Corporation's plans to
develop natural gas in the Loyalsock State Forest's "Clarence Moore lands."
Under the OOR's September 13 decision, the Pennsylvania Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has until October 13 to disclose
Anadarko's development plans for the Clarence Moore lands. The decision allows
DCNR to redact information that Anadarko has identified as "confidential
proprietary" information and "trade secrets." Until now, the DCNR has refused
to allow the public access to Anadarko's development plans.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130211/DC57616LOGO)

"The decision of the Office of Open Records is a victory for transparency in
government and for the Loyalsock State Forest," said PennFuture Staff Attorney
Mark Szybist. "We hope that the DCNR and Anadarko will provide Anadarko's
development plan without delay so that the public can better understand the
extent of the impacts and harms being proposed by Anadarko and DCNR."

The Clarence Moore lands are a 25,621-acre area of the Loyalsock State Forest
that hosts numerous sensitive ecological and recreational resources, including
the exceptional value watershed of Rock Run, the Old Loggers hiking path, and
National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Areas.

Anadarko owns half of the oil and gas under the Clarence Moore lands and wants
to drill wells, build compressor stations, and lay pipelines there. To do so,
however, Anadarko needs the DCNR's permission because an unusual provision in
the DCNR's deed gives the DCNR exclusive surface control of 18,870 acres of
the Clarence Moore lands.

Since September 2012, a coalition of conservation, recreational, and
sportsmen's groups including PennFuture has been pressing the DCNR to conduct
a meaningful public notice and input process regarding Anadarko's Clarence
Moore development plans.

The Loyalsock coalition includes the Responsible Drilling Alliance, the
Pennsylvania Forest Coalition, Sierra Club, Keystone Trails Association,
Audubon Society, PennEnvironment, Izaak Walton League, League of Women Voters
of Pennsylvania, Organizations United for the Environment, and Shale Justice.

DCNR denied PennFuture's RTKL request on three grounds: that the plan was an
"internal, predecisional" record of the DCNR; that the plan was a construction
plan made "for" the DCNR; and that the entire plan constituted confidential
and proprietary information and trade secrets. The OOR rejected DCNR's
arguments that the development plan was an internal predecisional record or a
document made "for" the DCNR.

The DCNR has until October 13 to produce the documents or appeal the decision
to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Anadarko could also appeal the
decision.

"The public has been kept in the dark far too long in this process," said Jim
Abernathy, interim president and CEO of PennFuture. "It's time to shed light
on the proceedings. After all, the state is simply the steward of these lands
on behalf of all Pennsylvanians and future generations. It's their land and
they have a right to know."

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in
1998, with staff 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
labalme@pennfuture.org
412-996.4112

SOURCE PennFuture
 
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