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Box 502 Williamsport, PA 18701 Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future 8 West Market Street, Suite 901 Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701 March 6, 2013 by electronic & first-class mail Richard J. Allan, Secretary Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Rachel Carson State Office Building P.O. Box 8767 400 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17105-8767 Re: Natural Gas Development in the Loyalsock State Forest Dear Secretary Allan: On behalf of over 50,000 citizens of the Commonwealth, the undersigned conservation, recreation, fishing, and hunting organizations write to insist that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources conduct a formal public comment process concerning gas development on the “Clarence Moore lands” in the Loyalsock State Forest – and meanwhile halt all negotiations over development with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. The DCNR should not make any deals with Anadarko until it has provided the public with meaningful information about Anadarko’s proposed development plans, and sponsored a public discussion of all alternatives – including alternatives involving no surface development activities. The DCNR cannot determine whether gas development in the Loyalsock State Forest is in the public interest without public input. By way of background, on September 7, 2012, our organizations wrote to you about evidence that Anadarko was preparing to conduct gas development operations on some 26,000 acres of land in the Loyalsock State Forest – including approximately 18,870 acres where the Commonwealth owns the surface rights, even though Anadarko and International Development Corporation own the oil and gas rights. The indications of planned development alarmed us because these lands – known to the DCNR as the “Clarence Moore lands” – contain resources of great ecological and recreational significance, including most of the Exceptional Value watershed of Rock Run, the Old Loggers Path and the Devils Elbow Natural Area. The Clarence Moore lands also contain irreplaceable breeding grounds for migratory birds, and have been designated an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society.
2012 Anadarko submitted a proposed Loyalsock State Forest development plan to the DCNR – and that the DCNR and Anadarko have since been engaged in serious negotiations for a surface use agreement. we will be guided first and foremost by our Department’s mission and obligation to protect and enhance our public lands. The DCNR has a non-negotiable duty to protect and enhance all State Forest lands.state. The reasons for public participation concerning gas potential gas development in the Clarence Moore lands are clear. the DCNR has a legal duty to conserve and maintain State Forest lands for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians. but that the legal issues concerning the DCNR’s surface rights are “very complex. not only has the public expressed an extraordinary amount of interest in protecting those resources – the DCNR itself concluded in its 2010 study (“Impacts of Leasing Additional State Forest for Gas Development”1) that “there are zero State Forest Land acres suitable for [additional] gas leasing involving surface disturbance. the DCNR may not grant a right-of-way over State Forest lands unless it determines that doing so is in the public interest. Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.” you advised. we made a modest request in our letter: that before giving Anadarko any access to the Clarence Moore lands. “and to the extent we have legal flexibility. The DCNR’s obligation to protect. given the ecological and recreational significance of the Clarence Moore lands and the unique legal circumstances surrounding their control. while making public the DCNR’s assessments of potential environmental impacts. enhance. but fails to acknowledge – let alone grant – our request for a formal public comment process.” The DCNR has a duty to protect. including future generations. We believe that for the DCNR to do this without any public input would be an abuse of the DCNR’s discretion. The DCNR should immediately halt these 1 http://www.pdf 2 . Based on DCNR documents obtained pursuant to the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law. and that under the Pennsylvania Conservation and Natural Resources Act. we know that in March.pa. 2013. We suggested that. regardless of their complexity. We noted that under Article I. the DCNR open a public comment period on Anadarko’s proposal to develop these lands. Not only are extraordinary public resources at stake. Byzantine ownership patterns and awkward court decisions do not relieve the DCNR of its statutory and Constitutional responsibilities. Section 27 of the State Constitution. the DCNR could not make an informed determination concerning the Clarence Moore lands without public participation.us/cs/groups/public/documents/document/d_000603.In light of the DCNR’s judicially-recognized control of the surface of these 18. for the benefit of future generations.” For the DCNR to allow surface disturbance on State-controlled Loyalsock State Forest lands would be a de facto lease. You wrote that the DCNR is committed to “doing all that we can” to protect the Loyalsock State Forest. and conserve the Loyalsock State Forest is not contingent upon the Department’s having sufficient “legal flexibility.” The DCNR’s refusal even to discuss our request for a public comment period is deeply troubling.” “We are currently reviewing all of these issues.dcnr. enhance. The DCNR appears to misapprehend its obligations under the Conservation and Natural Resources Act and Article I. and conserve State Forest and Park lands in all circumstances. you sent us correspondence that thanks us for our letter. including the Loyalsock State Forest. On February 22.870 acres.
the DCNR may not grant a right-of-way for gas development on the Clarence Moore lands unless it determines that such development is in the public interest. and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue. PennFuture Jeff Schmidt Director. Thank you very much. The DCNR recently expressed that it would be willing to meet with “local stakeholders” to discuss gas development in the Loyalsock State Forest. Sierra Club. Meanwhile. Pennsylvania Chapter Cathy Frankenberg Mid-Atlantic Policy Associate. Keystone Trails Association Mark Szybist Staff Attorney. and watch birds and wildlife in the Loyalsock State Forest come from throughout the Commonwealth. Sincerely. answer any questions. now. it is imperative that the DCNR conduct a statewide public comment process on any proposed development on the Clarence Moore lands.negotiations. Even if that does not happen. hunt. What Pennsylvania needs. Appalachian Mountain Club 3 . This is all the more true given that some 6. and provide any additional information. the Loyalsock is therefore a statewide resource. Like all of the Commonwealth’s State Forests and Parks. Given continuous advances in horizontal drilling technology. the burden is on the DCNR to demonstrate that any gas development should be allowed. it remains true that under the CNRA and Article I. For the DCNR to make this determination without involving the public would be unreasonable. Responsible Drilling Alliance Richard Martin Coordinator. Given the DCNR’s conclusion in its 2010 study. however. fish.000 acres of the Clarence Moore lands were acquired or developed with financial assistance under the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. it is possible that all recoverable gas under the Clarence Moore lands may soon become accessible from private lands where Anadarko already has surface rights. and jeopardize the Commonwealth’s eligibility for future federal grants. such that their conversion from public recreation use could require the Commonwealth to purchase replacement lands. Barb Jarmoska Acting President. including at least one public hearing. not a local one. boat. We look forward to hearing from you. While we do not know what stakeholders the DCNR had in mind. at significant cost. Thus. Section 27 of the State Constitution. Pennsylvania Forest Coalition Curt Ashenfelter Executive Director. we do know that the members of our organizations who hike. the DCNR should halt all negotiations with Anadarko and other parties over gas development on the Clarence Moore lands. is a frank public discussion about all alternatives for the Clarence Moore lands.
Corbett House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee The Honorable Garth Everett The Honorable Rick Mirabito The Honorable Gene Yaw 4 .cc: Governor Thomas W.