Temporary Win for Loyalsock State Forest as Marcellus Shale EF! Action Camp Kicks Off


from Earth First! Newswire

In what appears to be a temporary, but important, win for activists fighting fracking in the Northeast, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources denied Anadarko’s plan to drill for natural gas in the Loyalsock State Forest.

The campaign to prevent drilling in the Loyalsock was recently put on the map by Marcellus Shale EF!‘s treesit, and the news of this win comes as the Marcellus EF! Action Camp kicks off a week of trainings, skill shares, and more.

But the so-called “Loyalsock State Forest Development Plan” was apparently rejected not because of environmentalist pressure (although the national attention was probably important), but because Anadarko does not own all of the tract’s minerals.

The attempted land grab by Anadarko would have infringed on Southwestern Energy, which has not brought DCNR a development plan yet. Southwestern Energy is the company based in Houston that is pressing the RCMP to fight the Mi’kmaq in New Brunswick, Canada.

“We can’t have an agreement with just a 50-percent owner — it needs to be with both companies,” said DCNR Press Secretary Christina Novak.

So in this case, there are two massive, truly atrocious gas companies going head-to-head over a critical state forest. ”Anadarko could have an agreement with Southwestern that says we are willing to go along with what Anadarko has proposed, but both companies would need to be involved,” Novak stated.

Environmental group PennFuture requested a “Right to Know Law” release of Anadarko’s 18-month-old development plan. The plan, however, had been heavily redacted, with large sections blacked out—particularly concerning maps and information about land disturbance.

“I’m not sure that there’s anything at all in it that we didn’t already know,” PennFuture Staff Attorney Mark Szybist declared. “I suspect at this point that things have changed.”

Some sensative information did escape redaction. For example, Anadarko proposed a 300-foot buffer zone from Devil’s Elbow Natural Area for one of its well pads, which is half the size of the DCNR’s standard 600-foot requirement.

Anadarko also claims that it will recreate basking areas and habitat for the threatened Allegheny Woodrat and the threatened Timber Rattlesnake. Although Novak claims that the state has worked with gas companies to recreate these habitats, some think it would be a novel idea to see what would happen if the gas giants were not permitted in the forest at all.

The DCNR is not likely to be issuing any soft decisions any time soon, as their new Deputy Secretary for administration is Brian L. Grove, the former senior director of corporate development for Chesapeake Energy’s Marcellus Shale office in Towanda. Grove is replacing John Giordano who is moving on to the Department of Environmental Protection.

That the Pennsylvania DCNR remains a slithering snake pit is nothing new; the current staff shake-up comes on the heels of former DCNR head Rick Allan’s resignation in June over a racist email disparaging a co-worker.

from Hudson Valley EF!

from Hudson Valley EF!

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