Allegheny Defense Project ...working for the protection of the natural heritage of the Alleghenies...

Issues > Oil & Gas Drilling

Oil and Gas

 

A well drilled by Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) in the Salmon Creek watershed, Allegheny National Forest. Photo by Rachel Martin

Noise Impacts of Oil and Gas Drilling on the Allegheny National Forest

The Forest Service is currently preparing a forest-wide "Transition" EIS for oil and gas drilling proposed on the Allegheny between 2009-2013. As part of that analysis, the Forest Service is hiring a contractor to conduct a Noise Impact Analysis. The video clips below demonstrate why this analysis is necessary. (COMING SOON!)

Minard Run generator, crude oil tank farm facility, August 5, 2008

Minard Run generator, crude oil tank farm facility, July 14, 2008

East Resources generator, crude oil tank farm facility, August 27, 2008

Pennsylvania General Energy generator, crude oil tank farm facility, August 12, 2009

Hedgehog Lane Water Well Contamination Caused by Ohio-based Schreiner Oil and Gas Co.

On May 5, 2009 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) found Ohio-based Schreiner Oil and Gas Co. responsible for polluting several water wells along Hedgehog Lane in Bradford, PA.

DEP Inspection Reports

Hedgehog Lane Summary

Analytical Summary

Maps

Well Location Plats

Notices of Violations to Schreiner Oil and Gas

Letter to Bradford Township Supervisors

Letter to Schreiner Oil and Gas

DEP Email

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 62

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 63

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 64

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 65

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 67

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 68

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 69

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 70

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 71

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 72

Well Record and Completion Report for Well # 74

Well Service Reports

256043 Determination Letter

259322 Determination Letter

260987 Determination Letter

261036 Determination Letter

261451 Determination Letter

261452 Determination Letter

261493 Determination Letter

261766 Determination Letter

261976 Determination Letter

261977 Determination Letter

261978 Determination Letter

263200 Determination Letter

263419 Determination Letter

Determination Letter

Determination Letter

Determination Letter

Determination Letter

Lawsuits on the

Allegheny National Forest

1. Duhring Resources (Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association and Allegheny Forest Alliance, Plaintiff-Intervenors) vs. U.S. Forest Service (Allegheny Defense Project, Defendant-Intervenors)

Duhring's Second Amended Complaint

POGAM's Complaint in Intervention

ADP's Intervention Brief

Duhring and POGAM's Brief in Support of Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

ADP's Response to Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

ADP's Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss Duhring's Second Amended Complaint

ADP's Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss POGAM's Complaint in Intervention

Duhring's Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

POGAM's Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Court's Opinion on Motion to Dismiss

ADP's Answer to Duhring's Second Amended Complaint

ADP's Answer to POGAM's Complaint in Intervention

ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD

2. POGAM and AFA vs. U.S. Forest Service

POGAM and AFA's Complaint

3. PAPCO vs. U.S. Forest Service

PAPCO's Complaint

4. Catalyst Energy vs. U.S. Forest Service (Sierra Club and Allegheny Defense Project, Defendant-Intervenors)

Catalyst Energy's Complaint

Sierra Club and ADP's Motion to Intervene

Sierra Club and ADP's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Intervene

Sierra Club and ADP's Proposed Answer

5. Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, Allegheny Defense Project, Sierra Club vs. U.S. Forest Service (POGAM and AFA - Defendant-Intervenors)

FSEEE, ADP and Sierra Club's Amended Complaint

POGAM Intervention Brief

FSEEE, ADP and Sierra Club's Stipulation of Dismissal

Settlement Agreement signed with U.S. Forest Service

POGAM's Motion to Stay Settlement Agreement

FSEEE, ADP and Sierra Club's Response to POGAM's Motion to Stay Settlement Agreement

POGAM's Repy to FSEEE, ADP and Sierra Club

FSEEE, ADP, and Sierra Club's Surreply to POGAM's Motion to Stay

POGAM's Motion for Summary Judgment

Court's Opinion Denying POGAM's Motion to Stay Settlement Agreement

6. Minard Run Oil Company, POGAM, AFA and Warren County vs. U.S. Forest Service, Attorney General Eric Holder, FSEEE, ADP, and Sierra Club

Minard Run's Complaint

Minard Run's Preliminary Injunction Brief

Sierra Club and ADP's Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Forest Service's Motion to Dismiss and Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Forest Service Motion to Dismiss Exhibit 1 - Declaration of Allegheny National Forest Supervisor Leanne M. Marten

Forest Service Motion to Dismiss Exhibit 2 - Declaration of Bradford District Ranger Anthony V. Scardina

Forest Service Motion to Dismiss Exhibit 3 - Declaration of Eastern Region Geologist Randall P. Rabideaux

Forest Service Motion to Dismiss Exhibit 4 - May 24, 2007 Legal Memo about Forest Service authority to regulate private oil and gas development

Forest Service Motion to Dismiss Exhibit 5 - Declaration of Eastern Region Economist Richard H. Hokans, Ph.D

Forest Service Motion to Dismiss Exhibit 6 - Declaration of Marienville District Ranger Robert T. Fallon

Allegheny National Forest Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for addressing oil and gas drilling in the 2007 Forest Plan

February 15, 2008 Forest Plan Appeals Decision by the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service

The Forest Service's Regional Office approved the Allegheny National Forest Management Plan ("Forest Plan") in 2007. Dozens of individuals and organizations, including ADP, filed appeals of the Forest Plan approval. On February 15, 2008, the Forest Service Chief upheld the Forest Plan approval with three exceptions related to oil and gas drilling.

These exceptions ordered the Forest Service to 1) clarify its authority to regulate oil and gas drilling on the Allegheny, 2) allow the public to comment on proposed oil and gas regulations and 3) disclose the cumulative effects of oil and gas drilling on local and regional air quality.

January 16, 2009 Letter from Allegheny National Forest Supervisor Leanne Marten to "Interested Part[ies]" regarding the Notice of Intent to prepare a Supplemental EIS to be published on or before February 27, 2009.

Nearly a year after the Forest Service Chief told the Forest Service that it had to revisit the Forest Plan to address deficiencies related to oil and gas drilling, the Forest Service had yet to decide how it was going to respond.

On January 16, 2009, however, Allegheny Forest Service officials met in private with oil and gas industry representatives to discuss memos they received on the same day regarding how the Forest Service intended to address the Forest Service Chief's forest plan appeals decision regarding oil and gas drilling. The Forest Service did not share these memos with ADP or the public. Additionally, the Forest Service did not invite the public or ADP to participate in the January 16th meeting to discuss these memos about the Forest Plan Supplemental EIS...even through ADP was an appellant in the forest plan appeal process.

February 4, 2009 Letter from ADP to Supervisor Marten asking why ADP was not included as one of the "interested parties" in Supervisor Marten's January 16, 2009 letter.

On February 4, 2009 ADP sent a letter to Allegheny Forest Supervisor Leanne Marten seeking an explanation for why ADP did not receive the January 16th memos from the Forest Service and was not included in the January 16th meeting about how the Forest Service intended to address the Forest Service Chief's forest plan appeal decision.

February 17, 2009 Letter from Supervisor Marten responding to ADP's February 4, 2009 letter.

On February 17, 2009 Supervisor Marten responded to ADP saying "although the January 16th memoranda were not distributed to the public mailing list, there was no intention to withhold information from anyone. Supervisor Marten goes on to explain that only the oil and gas industry, elected officials, stage agencies and two organizations (Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Allegheny National Forest Vacation Bureau) were asked to participate in the January 16th meeting.

It is peculiar that the Forest Service would invite the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Allegheny National Forest Vacation Bureau to discuss the Supplemental EIS for the 2007 Forest Plan when neither of those organizations appealed that plan. ADP did appeal 2007 Forest Plan, yet was not invited to participate in this meeting.

February 24, 2009 Letter from ADP to the Forest Service's Regional Office regarding the Forest Service excluding ADP and the public as "interested parties" in the January 16, 2009 meeting.

On February 24, 2009 ADP sent a letter to the Regional Office seeking clarification for why ADP and the public was excluded from the January 16th meeting when other "interested parties" were included even though they were not appellants for the 2007 Forest Plan.

February 27, 2009 Federal Register notice announcing the Forest Service's intent to prepare a Supplmental EIS to address the Forest Service Chief's forest plan appeals decision from February 15, 2008.

Nearly a month and a half after the Forest Service met with oil and gas industry officials, the Forest Service officially notifies the public of its intent to prepare a Supplemental EIS for the 2007 Forest Plan.

February 27, 2009 Forest Service news release about the Forest Plan Supplemental EIS and two public meetings scheduled for March 9 and March 11, 2009.

The same day the Forest Service issued the notice of intent to prepare a Supplemental EIS for the 2007 Forest Plan, the Forest Service announced two public meetings on March 9 and March 11, 2009. In other words, while the oil and gas industry had known for well over a month what the Forest Service intended to do, as soon as that information was made public, the Forest Service scheduled the first public meeting just 10 days away.

March 4, 2009 Forest Service website still notifying the public of the two public meetings to be held on March 9 and March 11, 2009.

As of March 4, 2009 the Forest Service claimed on its website that there were only two upcoming meetings on the Forest Plan Supplemental EIS.

March 5, 2009 Forest Service website update notifying the public of an additional meeting about the Forest Plan Supplemental EIS on March 10, 2009.

On March 5, 2009 the Forest Service changed its website and announced that it had scheduled another meeting in Bradford for March 10, 2009, a 5-day notice.

March 5, 2009 Forest Service website notifying the public that the deadline for public comments on the Forest Plan Suppmental EIS scoping period is March 30, 2009 when the official Federal Register notice said it is March 26, 2009.

March 5, 2009 email thread between ADP and the Forest Service about when the actual deadline for public comments is.

As a result of the discrepancy between the Forest Service's website and the Federal Register notice on the official deadline for public comments, ADP emailed the Forest Service for clarification. The Forest Service responded saying the date in the Federal Register was, in fact, wrong and that "a corrrection will be published on March 10 that will show the correct date of March 30."

March 5, 2009 Forest Service press release portraying ADP's information is "erroneous."

After engaging in a series of missteps - from announcing the wrong deadline in the Federal Register for public comments to excluding appellants from forest planning discussions to barely giving the public notice on upcoming meetings - the Forest Service actually attacked ADP for "com[ing] out with such erroneous information...because it does nothing but confuse members of the public and cause further discontent and strife amongst community members."

The record speaks for itself. The information above clearly describes a process that has been biased towards the oil and gas industry and organizations that did not even file appeals to the Forest Plan (appeals that ultimately led the Forest Service to this Supplement EIS process). The information above also describes a process that has, up to this point, been discombobulated with the announcement of just two public meetings and then the announcement of a third meeting days later to coincide with the original two meetings.

ADP will continue to document how the Forest Service proceeds through the Supplemental EIS process for the 2007 Forest Plan to ensure that the public interest is met every step of the way.

Oil and Gas Drilling Project Files

The Allegheny Defense Project is determined to compel the Forest Service to comply with its obligations under the National Enviromental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze the impacts of proposed oil and gas developments in an Environmental Assessment (EA) and provide public comment and appeal opportunities. To date, the Forest Service refuses to allow the public to comment on nearly all oil and gas drilling projects in the Allegheny National Forest.

ADP, however, recently submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to learn how the Forest Service reviews and approves oil and gas drilling projects on the Allegheny National Forest. Below is a list of oil and gas development projects submitted to the Forest Service by oil and gas companies. Keep in mind that despite the fact that the Allegheny National Forest is federal public land, the public was never asked to comment on these proposals.

NOTE: Some of these files are very large. If you have dial-up internet access, downloading these files will take awhile.

Pierce and Peterson Co. (PAPCO) - OGM Case 263

In this case, you will see how some oil and gas companies act with total contempt toward the Forest Service and the protection of the Allegheny National Forest. Many companies think they are entitled to start drilling as soon as 60 days have passed since they notified the Forest Service of their intent to drill for privately-owned minerals. The 60-day advanced notice is not a deadline,however, for the Forest Service to approve development plans. Indeed, when the Forest Service is receiving record numbers of development plans, it only makes sense that it will take longer to review the plans.

What is really interesting in this case is Bradford District Ranger Anthony Scardina explicity states to Papco: "I must caution you that you may not proceed with any timber harvest, ground disturbing actions, or commercial activities on National Forest System lands without written approval from me. This approval will be in the form of a Notice to Proceed letter, with an attached Operating Plan, providing the conditions that constitute reasonable access across National Forest System surface ownership to your privately held sub-surface ownership."

This demonstrates that the Forest Service knows that private oil and gas drilling cannot proceed on the Allegheny without its approval. Thus, it is a "federal action," which triggers NEPA and the requirement for the Forest Service to prepare an Environmental Assessment and invite the public to comment on the oil and gas development proposal. That did not happen in this or any other oil and gas development case.

U.S. Energy - OGM Case B-015

This proposed drilling would impact the Rimrock Overlook and hiking trail and Longhouse National Scenic Byway.

Gas and Oil Management - B-013

OGM Analysis Cover for B-013

Four Rivers Exploration - OGM Case 5

This is a fairly new proposal and the only documents in the file are meeting minutes for a meeting between the Forest Service and Four Rivers Exploration. The main focus of the meeting regarded the need for an archaeological survey and the need to protect bald eagle habitat from this proposed oil and gas development. The notes reveal that there is some "controversy between DEP & SHPO" (State Historic Preservation Office), presumably over the protection of archaeological resources.

Bradford District Ranger Anthony Scardina notes that the Forest Service must consider "reasonable access vs. protecting surface resources." This is a direct reference to the Forest Service Chief's decision on the forest plan appeals where she stated that the Forest Service must "ensure surface resources are protected" from oil and gas drilling.

A couple pages later, the notes mention that this area is "highly sensitive nest + pair area for these birds in particular," an obvious reference to the bald eagles that live in this area. Just a couple sentences down, you will notice that other Forest Service "specialists" were asked to leave the room, leaving the note taker, Bradford District Ranger Anthony Scardina and representative from Four Rivers Exploration. Mr. Scardina explains that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be involved due to concerns with bald eagle habitat. Then, the notes say: "D.K. extremely angry saying at this point he thinks they should break FEDERAL LAW...saying road blocks are being put up by the FS."

"D.K." is Dave Kuschner, who represents the investors for Four Rivers Exploration.

Otter Exploration - OGM Case 265

Perhaps the most interesting document in this (and other) case files is not actually a Forest Service document, but rather a PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) form. The DEP form is titled "Coordination of a Well Location with Public Resources." The DEP asks if the proposed well will impact public resources. If yes, the DEP asks, "must the administrator of the public resource approve or otherwise authorize the proposed well, well site, access road, or gathering pipeline?" Every time the "public resource" is the Allegheny National Forest, the "YES" box is checked. In other words, this flatly contradicts the Forest Service and oil/gas industry's mantra that regulation of oil and gas drilling is strictly a state issue for the DEP to regulate. Even the DEP recognizes that oil and gas drilling cannot proceed on the Allegheny National Forest without formal approval by the Forest Service. And that approval requires the Forest Service to prepare an Environmental Assessment and solicit public comment on all proposed oil and gas development projects.

U.S. Energy - OGM Case 266

Page 4 of this file is the Forest Service's analysis for the impacts that this oil and gas development will have on threatened, endangered and sensitive species. Note how short the analysis is. Also note that the Forest Service insists "this project is not a federal action," which means the Forest Service does not believe it has to do a NEPA analysis with public comment. Of course the two files above clearly contradict this.

U.S. Energy - OGM Case 278

In this case, you will see that the Forest Service is concerned about the impacts that oil and gas drilling will have on the Willow Creek ATV Trail (p. 11). Of course, the Forest Service did not show that same concern when oil and gas companies obliterated the Longhouse National Scenic Byway or the North Country National Scenic Trail. That certainly seems to fit with the Forest Service's priorities, which can be seen here.

East Resources - OGM Case 280

Here you will see another company demanding the Forest Service approve its development plans within a 60-day time frame. Regardless of the fact that oil and gas companies are submitting record numbers of drilling proposals, they expect the Forest Service to maintain the same review period even though their staffing level has not increased. It just goes to show the arrogance some of these companies have. Not only does the law not require the Forest Service to approve these development plans within 60 days, but these demands just goes to show how much these companies really care about the environment. Mistakes are bound to be made when the oil and gas industry wants the same number of Forest Service personnel to review record numbers of drilling proposals within the same time frame as if the Forest Service was receiving only a few drilling proposals.

Keane Development - OGM Case 283

Here you see another case with the DEP form titled "Coordination of a Well Location with Public Resources" (p. 6). In this example, not only is the "YES" box checked indicating that the Forest Service must authorize the drilling proposal (i.e., triggering NEPA), but at the bottom of the form, it states that Forest Service personnel "must approve the site and all plans before any construction can begin."

Armac Resources - OGM Case B-006

This is an OGM case file in its early stages. It was submitted in Dec. 2007.

Snyder Brothers - OGM Case B-024

On August 17, 2008 two former Snyder Brothers employees sabotages seven of its oil storage tank batteries in the same vicinity as the wells in this OGM case file. On page 9 of this case file, Snyder Brothers' "Presparedness, Prevention and Contingency Plan" states that "the tank battery [associated with this development" is surrounded by an earthen containment dam...the facilities are in fairly isolated areas so they are not fenced in. Discharge from locked or valve handles are removed to eliminate unauthorized use."

Clearly, Snyder Brothers' contingency plan did not work where this disastrous oil spill occurred. It is not clear whether they had the same "contingency" plan in place where its former employees were able to unleash thousands of gallons of oil into nearby streams, but if they did, it is clear that contigency plan failed miserably.

Snyder Brother - OGM Case 284

Here is yet another case where a company, this time Snyder Brothers, demands the Forest Service to approve its plans within 60 days. On page 5, you will see a letter addressed to the Forest Service stating "failure to complete your processing of this notification reasonably or expiditiously and, in all cases, after the passage of 60 days will be considered a denial of and interference with Snyder's right to access and develop its private property rights."

Again, these companies do not care that the Forest Service is physically incapable of reviewing and "processing" drilling proposals since it is receiving record numbers of them. Essentially, Snyder Brothers and other oil companies just want the Forest Service to ignore its duty to protect surface resources and rubber stamp their drilling proposals, the consequences be damned.

Atlas Resources - OGM Case 270 (Deep Wells)

In OGM Case 270 for Atlas Resources' drilling of two deep wells, you will see on pages 31 and 32 the Forest Service's signed Notice to Proceed sent to Atlas
Resources. The date on the Notice to Proceed is August 3, 2007. On pages 34-37, however, you will see that it was not until October 31, 2007 that the Forest Service completed its review of the potential impact on threatened, endangered and sensitive species. By that time, it is almost certain that road and well site construction had already occurred. It is pointless to complete an analysis on the potential impacts to threatened, endangered and sensitive species three months after the oil and gas drilling project was approved.

Minard Run - OGM Case 008

On page 17, you will see one page of Minard Run's erosion and sedimentation control plan in which the company states "after well drilling permit approval from the PADEP and the surface use approval by landowners [U.S. Forest Service], clearly for the access road and well site would commence."

This explicitly implies that the Forest Service, as the federal surface landowners, must approve oil and gas drilling proposals. Thus, it is a federal action that triggers NEPA and the need for public involvement in the environmental analysis process.

Also note that this oil and gas development had significant impacts on the Longhouse National Scenic Byway and North Country National Scenic Trail (pp. 26-27) and possibly historic heritage resources. In fact, in regards to heritage resources, Forest Service archaeologist Jack McLaughlin stated: "I examined the proposed project on two occasions. Each time I weighed the pros and cons for the landforms where the proposed wells are located. I could not reach a decision on why a Phase 1 surve should not happen in defined Priority Areas. It is my professional judgment that a survey should occur. It will take approximately 85-100 shovel digs to conduct phase 1."

Despite Mr. McLaughlin's "professional judgment," his superiors "decided to move forward [with] the project without further Archaeological work [to] be conducted."

Catalyst Energy - OGM Case 276

This project appears to be in its earliest stages with only a few documents submitted to the Forest Service.

Andrea & Holden - OGM Case 281

This project appears to be in its earliest stages with only a few documents submitted to the Forest Service.

Belden & Blake - OGM Case B-001

Belden & Blake completed a form for this oil and gas development proposal that requested it to:

"Describe likely environmental effects that the proposal will have on: (a) air quality; (b) visual impact; (c) surface and ground water quality and quantity; (d) the controld of structural change on any stream or other body of water; (e) existing noise levels; (f) the surface of the land, including vegetation, soil, and soil stability; and (g) effects on recreation users or other current uses in the area."

Belden & Blake's response was, not surprisingly, "None."

This demonstrates the total lack of concern that some, if not most of the oil and gas companies operating in the Allegheny have for their impact to surface and water resources, wildlife habitat and recreation.

Gas & Oil Management - OGM Case B-002

In this case, you will see another example of the Forest Service putting the cart before the horse. The Forest Service approved this oil and gas development on March 18, 2008. The very next day, the Forest Service held a "Pre-Work Conference" with the company even though the Allegheny National Forest Handbook for Administering Oil and Gas Drilling states the "Pre-Work Conference" should be held shortly after the company notifies the Forest Service of their intent to drilling...not AFTER the Forest Service has already approved the drilling.

Allegheny Enterprises - OGM Case B-022

On page 16, you will see something that has become all too common in the Allegheny: "The well locations need to be reviewed by someone in recreation because of the impacts it will have on this dispersed camping area."

U.S. Energy - OGM Case 273

In this case, U.S. Energy proposed 11 oil and gas wells in Warrant 4872. Note that this is the same warrant where U.S. Energy is proposing another 103 oil and gas wells in case B-023 below.

Belden & Blake - OGM Case 275

In the "Notice to Proceed" for this case (p. 35), the Forest Service stated that it "cannot supply pit material for this development without proper environmental analysis and documentation, which could take several months or more to complete. Therefore, private commercial stone material will need to be used for this development."

This is proof that ADP has been successful in forcing the Forest Service to do more to protect surface resources. Until ADP started calling out the Forest Service on this issue, the agency simply gave these oil and gas companies stone material for their private oil and gas developments.

Allegheny Enterprises - OGM Case 277

Gas & Oil Management - OGM Case B-004

Four River Exploration - OGM Case B-005

South Shore Energy - OGM Case B-010

KCS Energy - OGM Case B-032

East Resources - OGM Case 267

U.S. Energy - OGM Case B-023

This is an enormous oil and gas development project proposed for Warrant 4872 in Corydon Township, McKean County. U.S. Energy is proposing to drill 103 oil and gas wells in this Warrant. Here is a map of the proposed development plan. (WARNING: EXTREMELY LARGE FILE). This oil and gas development would impact the entire warrant, which covers over 1,400 acres.

The Forest Service simply cannot allow such a large oil and gas development to move forward without conducting an analysis pursuant to NEPA.

Belden & Blake - OGM Case B-012

Howard Drilling - OGM Case B-021

Snyder Brothers - OGM Case B-025

Mead Oil - OGM Case B-026

Otter Exploration - OGM Case B-030

Catalyst Energy - OGM Case B-033

Minard Run - OGM Case B-034

U.S. Energy - OGM Case B-035

Belden & Blake - OGM Case 255

Snyder Brothers - OGM Case B-027

Stateside Energy - OGM Case B-031

East Resources - OGM Case 269

U.S. Energy - OGM Case 271

U.S. Energy - OGM Case 279

Barnes Resources - OGM Case B-011

East Resources - OGM Case M118

Documents regarding Heritage Resources

Other Oil and Gas Related Documents

Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association's (POGAM) "Legal Analysis" for Oil and Gas Drilling in the Allegheny National Forest (13.4 MB) This is POGAM's so-called "legal analysis" that brazenly tells the Forest Service that it basically has little to no authority to regulate private oil and gas drilling in the Allegheny National Forest.

Meeting Minutes Concerning Oil & Gas Development in the Allegheny National Recreation Area - This document was produced when Vertical Resources, an oil company that has since been permanently banned from operating in PA due to an extensive list of environmental violations, proposed an oil and gas development in the Allehgeny Front National Recreation Area, which is also an Inventoried Roadless Area. ADP fought this development stating that the Forest Service could not approve this drilling without first preparing an Environmental Assessment pursuant to NEPA.

The Forest Service claimed NEPA did not apply, but its own notes from a meeting with its attorney from the Office of General Counsel prove otherwise. At the end of the notes, the Forest Servcie concludes that "NEPA applies to the entire [oil and gas drilling] project as a result of the OGM development falling under the 1911 rules and regulations."

In other words, the Forest Service admits behind closed doors that NEPA applies to private oil and gas drilling in the Allegheny National Forest. To date, however, the Forest Service refuses to prepare the legally required Environmental Assessment and allow public comment on proposed oil and gas drilling projects pursuant to NEPA.

Phone Conversation Record between Forest Service Archaeologist and DEP's Oil and Gas Division Manager - This documents another instance where a Forest Service emplyee explicitly states that NEPA applies to private oil and gas drilling projects in the Allegheny National Forest. Note that paragraph 5 says that "the antiquities act of 1906, the Historic Sites Act of 1935 the Preservation act of 1966 amended 2001, NEPA 1979 and State laws on cultural resources applied."

First, it appears that the "1979" is a typo since NEPA was passed in 1969. Nevertheless, this is an explicit statement from the Forest Service that NEPA applies to private oil and gas drilling projects in the Allegheny. Unfortunately, the Forest Service does not actually comply with NEPA by preparing the legally required Environmental Assessment and allowing public comment and appeal opportunities.

Drilling in Pennsylvania State Forests

Unlike the Allegheny National Forest, most of the drilling rights underlying Pennsylvania's state forests are owned by the state. This gives the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) far more leeway in how these resources are managed.

In 2002, the DCNR proposed to lease half a million acres of state forest and park land for deep-well oil and gas development. After significant public outcry, the DCNR revoked half of that acreage. In the end, only a fraction of the acreage offered for lease were actually bid upon. However, should the wells that will be drilled on these lands hit significant gas reserves, we can expect to see a major push by the industry for additional deep well leases.

The state Bureau of Forestry (BoF) is currently working to develop a five-year plan for the state forests. In their recently-released draft plan, they have proposed a moratorium on shallow well oil and gas drilling. The Allegheny Defense Project strongly applauds the BoF for taking this step, but we feel that the impacts of deep-well drilling need to be better addressed, and that this drilling needs to at minimum be limited, and, preferably, be halted as well.


Read the article from the 2003 Special Issue of the Hellbender Journal," Drilling to Infinity in the Allegheny"

Read the article from the Autumn 2002 issue of the Hellbender Journal, "Struggle to Defend Salmon Creek Continues"

Read the article from the Autumn 2002 issue of the Hellbender Journal, "Pennsylvania Auctions Off 60,000 Acres of Oil and Gas Rights on Public Lands"

Read about the environmental impacts of deep-well drilling

Read press release, Pennsylvania Plans to Auction Off Half a Million Acres of State Forest and Park Lands for Oil and Gas Drilling April 5, 2002

Read press release, Supersedeas Not Granted, but the Fight Goes on to Save Salmon Creek January 16, 2002

Read press release, Judge Issues Temporary Order Suspending Oil and Gas Corporation's Permits for Construction Activity in Allegheny National Forest January 10, 2002

Read press release, Conservationists File Appeal to PA Environmental Hearing Board Over Oil and Gas Permits January 7, 2002

Read press release, U.S. Forest Service Gives Oil and Gas Corporations Green Light, Every Time November 14, 2001

Read article, "Oil and Gas Exploitation in the Allegheny" from the Summer/Fall 2001 issue of the Hellbender Journal

 

 

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