Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sierra Club Responds to Forced Resignation of DNCR Secretary Allan


Today, Governor Corbett's office put out a very brief press release announcing the abrupt resignation of DCNR Secretary Richard Allan, effective immediately.  No explanation was given. 

Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter Director Jeff Schmidt issued the following reaction to the announcement:

"We believe that Governor Corbett's request for Secretary Allan's resignation is at least in part a result of the lack of transparency and willingness to involve the public in DCNR's public lands management decisions.  A current example of this failure is the way Secretary Allan has acted in relation to Anardarko Petroleum Company's desire to drill for natural gas in pristine parts of the Loyalsock State Forest in Lycoming County.   

Under Secretary Allan's leadership, DCNR has been engaging in backroom negotiations with Anadarko, while refusing to provide the public important details about Anadarko's plans.  Our environmental and sportsmen’s coalition representing more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians has been frustrated by Secretary Allan's stonewalling and hostility to public involvement. 

We applaud Governor Corbett's decision to remove a cabinet secretary who has grossly mishandled public involvement, and shown open hostility to established public lands stakeholder organizations—unprecedented in both Republican and Democratic past administrations.  We hope this action is an accountability measure in response to Secretary Allan's tone deaf handling of public involvement in public lands management decision-making. 

We continue to call on Governor Corbett to take swift action to halt the backroom dealing with Anadarko.  We ask Governor Corbett to act to protect the Loyalsock State Forest from gas drilling, by exercising the Commonwealth's legal authority to deny Anadarko and others surface access to the State Forest lands for drilling.  We call on Governor Corbett to appoint an experienced public lands manager with no ties to industry to replace Secretary Allan.  Secretary Allan and a number of his appointed Deputies came to the job with no public lands management experience.  We believe that lack of experience contributed greatly to the failure to engage the public, including those with whom he disagrees, unlike his predecessors in both Republican and Democratic administrations. 

We note that there has been controversy over the lack of transparency and hostility to public involvement in both Pennsylvania environmental agencies:  Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) since Governor Corbett took office.  We further note that both DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, and now DCNR Secretary Richard Allan, are no longer cabinet secretaries.  In the case of DEP, one major controversy has been over the failure to provide complete data about drinking water contamination from gas drilling.  In the case of DCNR, a major controversy is the refusal to disclose fully the plans of the drilling company and DCNR's backroom negotiations."

For more information, contact Jeff Schmidt at (717) 232-0101


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