Advocates: Keep Drillers Out of Loyalsock State Forest

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.

Marcellus Shale Coalition Claims Bias in Local Laws

    The head of the natural gas industry’s Marcellus Shale Coalition claims that some local municipalities in Pennsylvania are discriminating against drillers by passing local laws aimed at preventing gas well operations. Katheryn Klaber cited laws against drilling within a certain distance from buildings and noise ordinances that in some cases ban nighttime noise increases of 5 decibels. Klaber says that’s a law being violated by crickets.

    Klaber was appearing before Governor Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission when she made the comments, asking for “clarity and consistency” in local ordinances. While non-committal on acknowledging that any local laws violated the state constitution, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, who chairs the committee, said the panel will take a look at the industry’s complaints in greater depth.

    An “impact fee” bill currently before the state Senate would establish a model ordinance for municipalities statewide. Those communities that pass stricter local laws would be excluded from the money raised through the fees, which start at $10,000 per well.

    Governor Tom Corbett established the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission earlier this year to examine all aspects and impacts of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania.