What is the issue? Anadarko Petroleum Corporation wants permission from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to drill for Marcellus Shale gas in an extraordinary part of the Loyalsock State Forest known as the Clarence Moore lands. The Commonwealth owns the surface of these lands, and under its deed has the power to deny Anadarko surface access to at least 75% of the area. The issue is whether the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) will use this power to protect this gem of the Pennsylvania Wilds.
What are the Clarence Moore lands? The 25,621-acre Clarence Moore lands are one of only a few large public land areas in north-central PA that has not yet been opened to shale gas development. Located in the heart of the Loyalsock State Forest, the area includes valuable features such as the Old Logger’s Path, a renowned 27-mile hiking trail that opens onto stunning vistas, and most of the watershed of Rock Run, an Exceptional Value stream widely hailed as the most beautiful in Pennsylvania. The area also contains a National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Area, and provides habitat for rare, endangered, or threatened species such as the timber rattlesnake, northern water shrew, creeping snowberry, northern bulrush, northern goshawk, and yellow-bellied flycatcher. The oil and gas under the Clarence Moore lands are owned by Anadarko and other private parties – but a provision in the Commonwealth’s deed gives the DCNR the power to keep Anadarko off of most, if not all, of the surface.
What impacts would drilling have on the Clarence Moore lands? Any gas development in these lands will require clearing and fragmenting large areas of the forest for wellpads, compressor stations, water impoundments, and miles of new pipelines and roads. The drilling and fracking of wells (and the years of production afterward) would bring truck traffic, chemicals, wastewater, air emissions, light, noise and a host of other industrial activity to one of the largest and most ecologically sensitive islands of quiet, scenic, and relatively undisturbed sections of Pennsylvania’s State Forest land. If drilling proceeds, the wild and scenic character of the Forest would be permanently altered, and its precious natural resources threatened.
What are we asking for? The Loyalsock State Forest is public land. Therefore, the public has a right to input on how it is managed and protected. So far, though, the public has been shut out of the decision-making process for the Clarence Moore lands – just as it was shut out of the DCNR’s decision-making process for leasing State Forest lands a few years ago. The DCNR has not shared Anadarko’s development plans, and held only one, poorly managed public meeting – in Williamsport, on a weekday afternoon. Despite the inconvenient timing, some 500 people turned out at this meeting, all speaking in opposition to Anadarko’s plans. We are asking Pennsylvania Governor Corbett to share Anadarko’s development plan with the public, accept public comments, and hold six public hearings across the state. The public must have a say in the DCNR’s decisions about these public lands.
How can you help? Signing this petition will send a message directly to Governor Corbett, asking him to tell the DCNR to stop meeting behind closed-doors and let the people have their say on the fate of these valuable public lands.
Tell the governor why this is important to you and why you don't want shale gas drilling industrializing the Clarence Moore lands of the Loyalsock State Forest, then copy your message and send it to the DCNR at firstname.lastname@example.org and your state legislators (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/ - address) as your public comment on the Anadarko/DCNR negotiations.
As I am sure you are aware, the Loyalsock State Forest is one of the most beloved parts of Pennsylvania’s great natural heritage. This gem of the Pennsylvania Wilds is enjoyed annually by thousands of visitors, and is home to irreplaceable natural and recreational resources, including the Exceptional Value watersheds of Rock Run and Pleasant Stream, the Old Loggers Path, and a National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Area.
It was shocking, then, to learn that your DCNR was deep in private negotiations with Anadarko to open the Clarence Moore lands to gas development.
Clearly, the public wants to be engaged in this issue. They understand that DCNR works for the people of the Commonwealth; they understand that DCNR has the power to protect of the Clarence Moore lands; and they strongly believe that they have a right to know about Anadarko’s proposal.
For these reasons, we believe your agency should acknowledge and grant the public’s request for information, and should establish a robust process to both garner and share facts about their public lands.
Specifically, DCNR should post on its website Anadarko’s most recent proposed development plan, then accept public comments on the plan for ninety (90) days. Meanwhile, DCNR should hold six (6) public hearings, one in each region of the Commonwealth. Any proposed development agreement between DCNR and Anadarko should likewise be subject to public review and input.
The Loyalsock State Forest belongs to the people of Pennsylvania, and as the people’s steward of this magnificent resource, DCNR has a legal duty to protect, conserve and enhance the Clarence Moore lands in the public interest. It is critical that information about proposed drilling activity related to these lands be made available to the public.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “public sentiment is everything” in our nation. We hope that you will ensure that your DCNR provides the public with an ample opportunity to have its input heard.