Tell Your Representative to Protect the Allegheny National Forest by Voting NO on Pennsylvania HB 1904!
The Allegheny National Forest is the most industrialized forest in the U.S. Forest Service System due to even-aged management (serial clear-cut logging) for high-value timber species, and because of intensive, full-field mine-out, stripper well oil and gas drilling, and marcellus shale gas drilling. These activities together are destroying every use and enjoyment of the forest, including recreation, wildlife habitat, water quality, and air quality. Now Pennsylvania Representative Kathy Rapp and her colleagues want to make this the permanent condition of the Allegheny National Forest by passing House Bill 1904. Help us stop them by sending this letter (click here) and by calling your representative to tell them to protect the Allegheny National Forest.
There are 12,000 to 15,000 active conventional oil and gas wells on the Allegheny National Forest with unconventional Marcellus and Utica Shale gas well drilling now beginning.
There are over 2,236 miles of oil and gas roads and 1,512 miles of USFS system roads on the Allegheny.
The Allegheny National Forest was created for Watershed Protection.
But Pennsylvania's only National Forest has been plagued by mismanagement, corruption, and a local political environment heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry and other extractive industries.
The industry is occupying the surface of the Allegheny with full-field-mine-out stripper well developments (see also PSU stripper well consortium). After environmental groups filed a compliant in Federal Court because of the failure of the Forest Service to conduct site-specific environmental analysis on proposed oil and gas drilling sites on the Allegheny, a limited amount of information was made public about the oil and gas industry's plans for the Allegheny National Forest. The image below illustrates a proposed project in the northeastern part of the Allegheny National Forest. Each green dot represents a well. Not illustrated in the image is all of the infrastructure that goes along with these developments including tank batteries, oil lines, water lines, electric lines, generators, wastewater impoundments, drilling fine dumps, drilling equipment and waste, truck traffic, construction equipment, and every other element of an industrialized landscape.
The image below shows the industry's plans for the Allegheny National Forest. All of the yellow areas are predicted by the Forest Service to see full-field-mine-out within the next 20 years.
This is the stage for unconventional Marcellus and Utica Shale Gas Drilling (see aerial monitoring of shale gas sites in 2010). Kathy Rapp and her colleagues want to industrialize the Allegheny National Forest. They do not want the public's surface protected, in fact they do not want to acknowledge that the public has any rights to protect the surface at all.
House Bill 1904 builds on preemptions contained in Act 13, the completely inadequate, and unlawful, Marcellus shale legislation recently signed by Governor Corbett.
Act 13/HB 1950 contains the following provision:
“With respect to oil and gas deposits on national forest lands identified under section 17(o) of the Mineral Leasing Act (106 Stat. 3108, 30 U.S.C. § 226(o)), the application of regulations and statutes adopted by the Commonwealth shall be the exclusive method and means by which any requirements may be imposed on any feature, aspect or process of oil and gas operations pertaining to the development of the deposits.”
The provision attempts to make Pennsylvania statutes and regulations the only requirements imposed on national forest lands: it attempts to preempt federal law on oil and gas drilling in national forests.
The oil and gas industry is attempting to spin the situation into a state's rights argument. However, it is simply a case of corporate rights over community and individual rights. The root causes of this situation are greed, corruption**, and a complete lack of leadership and honorable behavior on all levels of government.
It is up to those of us who care about the landscape and the communities of the Allegheny National Forest to make this right. Please start by telling your representative how you feel.
**Public corruption is a breach of trust by federal, state, or local officials—often with the help of private sector accomplices.