Environmental advocates and House Democrats are urging the Corbett administration to keep natural gas drillers out of the Loyalsock State Forest in northern Pennsylvania. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation owns the subsurface rights for some of the land, but state Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) says the state is in a strong bargaining position because it will be regulating the energy company for years to come.
“They need the DEP and DCNR’s permission for permits and so forth, for many things, both immediately and in the decades to come. So the governor does have leverage. So we are asking that he use that leverage to get a good result,” Vitali explained at a capitol news conference on Tuesday.
But it’s a complex situation, according to Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) press secretary Chris Novak. “In the circumstances where the commonwealth does not own the mineral rights, we are required by law, by some legal decisions, to provide reasonable access to the owner, or to the person who leases those rights,” she says.
The DCNR is working on an agreement that can both grant access and protect the forest. The agency is planning a free webinar, Thursday, to review the issue and answer the public’s questions.