12,000 Want Hearings, Public Comment On Potential For Loyalsock State Forest Drilling
The Loyalsock Coalition, a group dedicated to protecting Loyalsock State Forest, Thursday delivered more than 12,000 petitions to Gov. Tom Corbett that urge the state to hold public hearings and to conduct a public comment period on gas drilling plans in the forest.
Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Minority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, who supports the coalition's efforts, joined the group for a news conference in the state Capitol Thursday.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has held one hearing about Anadarko Petroleum Corp.'s plans to drill in the forest. Environmental organizations later learned through an open records request that DCNR did not record comments made at that hearing in Williamsport.
Rep. Vitali and others urged the Corbett administration to hold six public hearings across the state, to conduct a public comment period of 90 days or more, and to listen to residents' concerns.
"Loyalsock State Forest is home to some of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful and treasured natural resources," Rep. Vitali said. "Gov. Corbett should do everything in his power to minimize its degradation.”
Loyalsock is an 114,000-acre forest in Bradford, Lycoming and Sullivan counties. It is home to some of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful and treasured natural resources, including the Old Loggers Path, one of the state’s best hiking trails, and Rock Run, an exceptional value stream.
The forest is under the threat of Marcellus Shale gas drilling by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Anadarko's proposal calls for constructing 25 well pads, installing 60-foot-wide gas lines that would cross the trail multiple times and building a compressor station and impoundment areas.
"The people of Pennsylvania are the owners and stewards of Loyalsock State Forest," said Adam Garber, PennEnvironment field director. "Yet instead of gathering input from the state's citizens, Gov. Corbett's administration has avoided every opportunity for official public input – ignoring the growing outcry to protect this national treasure from further fracking."
Anadarko and another drilling company own the mineral rights to about 19,000 acres in Loyalsock State Forest. However, due to an unusual deed provision and a 1989 Commonwealth Court decision, DCNR has the surface rights to that acreage and could control or restrict Anadarko from drilling on the acreage.
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