Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shine Light on Gas Drilling Plans in Loyalsock State Forest, Governor Corbett


Organizations representing over 100,000 Pennsylvania citizens are calling on Governor Tom Corbett to make public the plans by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation to drill in a wild part of the Loyalsock State Forest in Lycoming County known as the “Clarence Moore lands.” The process, which will affect some of the Commonwealth’s most sensitive public lands, lacks transparency and input by the public, to whom these lands belong. The coalition calls for public release of the proposal and a ninety-day comment period, including statewide public hearings.

The 25,621-acre Clarence Moore lands are home to extraordinary natural and recreational resources including the Exceptional Value watersheds of Rock Run and Pleasant Stream, the Old Loggers Path hiking trail and a National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Area. To date, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has held one public meeting on potential gas drilling in this area, describing the meeting as “the completion” of its interactions with the public.  Because of unique legal circumstances, DCNR has unusual power to prevent surface disturbance in most, if not all, of this significant public wild area.

 “Any decision to open the Clarence Moore lands to gas development will permanently change their wild character. Because these are public lands belonging to all citizens of the Commonwealth, that decision requires a transparent public process.” said Mark Szybist, staff attorney at PennFuture.

"Sierra Club members from throughout Pennsylvania visit the Loyalsock State Forest to swim, fish, hike and birdwatch.  They want DCNR to stop the backroom negotiations with Anadarko.  They want to know the details of what is proposed, and they expect DCNR to allow the public ample time to comment," said Jeff Schmidt, Director, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter.

"Full disclosure of Anadarko's plans and the opportunity to share it with our stakeholders in the hiking community is imperative for a robust public hearing process that will provide for the protection of the Old Loggers Path," said Curt Ashenfelter Executive Director of the Keystone Trails Association. 

The coalition delivered this letter to state officials including Governor Tom Corbett, DCNR Secretary Richard J. Allan, and Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, E. Christopher Abruzzo. The letter was signed by leadership from: Responsible Drilling Alliance; PennFuture; Pennsylvania Forest Coalition; Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter; Keystone Trails Association; PennEnvironment; League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania; Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association; Audubon Pennsylvania and Lycoming Audubon; Pennsylvania Division Izaak Walton League; Shale Justice Coalition; and Organizations United for the Environment.

Mark Szybist, staff attorney, PennFuture, 570-208-4007, 
Jeff Schmidt, Director, Sierra Club PA Chapter, 717-232-010, jeff.schmidt@sierraclub.org
Curt Ashenfelter, Executive Director, Keystone Trails Association, 717-418-4661, ktahike@verizon.net

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