On March 20, 2010, a Pennsylvania State Police Officer temporarily blocked the Oil and Gas Issues tour organized as a joint outing of the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club and ADP.
The officer intercepted our group at the Bucktail Hotel in Marienville where we had convened to start the tour. We organized the tour to survey oil and gas drilling operations within the footprint of the Allegheny National Forest, including a Marcellus Shale gas well site west of Marienville on Guitonville Road, and a shallow well drilling site on FR 216. The Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) Marcellus Shale gas drilling operation includes a massive fresh/wastewater impoundment on Gamelands No. 24. One of the wells at this drilling site will use six million gallons of freshwater for hydraulic fracturing from surface streams and creeks, and from aquifers in the area.
The PA State Police officer told tour organizers that PGE had posted a security guard at a newly installed gate on the roadway going to their Marcellus Shale gas well site. The officer also told the group that it was private property. The roadway that PGE blocked with a gate and a security officer crossed Collins Pine Land into Gamelands No. 24. The officer repeatedly referred to an "injunction" during the discussion suggesting that it might be something that would impede the tour. After a lengthy discussion, the State Police Officer, Corporal Richard Douthit, who met the group in Marienville, agreed that the group did have the right to access the public lands.
Jim Kleissler of the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club led the tour showing the group first a typical shallow well development. This particular drilling operation was a Seneca Resources operation in which we noted several issues including drill cuttings in a nearby stream, and erosion and sedimentation problems.
Drilling operations on the Allegheny National Forest are currently moving forward without environmental analysis or regulation that would mitigate its impact on the federal public land because of an industry sought preliminary injunction against a U.S. Forest Service Environmental Impact Statement and a settlement between the U.S. Forest Service and ADP, Sierra Club, and Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. The preliminary injunction, which ADP and other groups have appealed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, halted the analysis of oil and gas drilling on the Allegheny. The Allegheny Defense Project intends to continue monitoring oil and gas drilling impacts on public resources and educating the public through tours and training.
Radio Roxanne and Rustbelt Radio (Pittsburgh Indymedia) were also on the tour, so stay tuned as they produce reports in the near future (see photo below).
From left to right: State Police Corporal Richard Douthit, ADP's Forest Watch Coordinator Cathy Pedler, ADP's Board President Bill Belitskus.
Photo by Maren Leyla Cooke*
Photo by Cathy Pedler
FR 216 Seneca Resources Drilling Projects
Photo by Cathy Pedler
L to R Cathy Pedler, Roxanne Amico (Radio Roxanne), Rustbelt Radio Representatives (Pittsburgh Indymedia)