It's spring! In the Allegheny National Forest this means oil and gas drillers will continue drilling thousands more oil and gas wells, and cut hundreds of miles of new roads into an already heavily fragmented forest. We need your help! Because of a very bad decision last December in the Federal District Court of Western Pennsylvania (Minard Run Oil Company et al. v. USFS et al.), which enjoined a settlement reached in our lawsuit (FSEEE, Sierra Club, and ADP v. USFS), this destruction is moving forward without environmental analysis or public input while we appeal the disappointing decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
We recommend that you choose one of the TEIS Areas listed HERE (see background below for explanation of TEIS). We also highly recommend that you first contact us with your choice (see step 2), attend a training workshop, and conduct monitoring in teams of at least two.
You may choose your area based on your favorite watershed or by your least-favorite drilling company. The image on the above left is a community walk map, which shows the TEIS areas. This interactive map can help you locate your area on the ground (make sure you zoom-out to see the whole map, areas listed on the left of map link to locations). We also highly recommend purchasing an Allegheny National Forest Map from one of the ANF U.S. Forest Service Offices (word of caution: these maps are out of date and do not reflect all of the roads in the forest).
2. Contact our outreach coordinator Megan Rulli with your site choice at email@example.com and sign up for the Forest Watch Team(read more).
If you are not specifically drawn to one of the imminently threatened areas (TEIS Areas), no worries, the whole forest needs guardians and watchers. The U.S. Forest Service predicts that over two-thirds of the forest is threatened by "full-mine-out" conditions by the oil and gas industry (see image on the right, yellow area is "full mine-out area"). Full-mine-out is oil and gas wells spaced every 500 feet across the landscape with associated roads, tank batteries, generators, wastewater pits etc. On top of oil and gas drilling the U.S. Forest Service continues its even-aged logging practices (clearcutting, herbiciding, and fencing for high-value species). So if you have a favorite area almost anywhere in the ANF, it needs your watchful eyes, and attention.
3. Finally, if you are able, please support our Forest Watch and ongoing litigation efforts (including an appeal of the decision mentioned above) by donating to ADP.
Last year, before our settlement was enjoined, the U.S. Forest Service began an Environmental Analysis based on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). However, they interpreted the "site-specific" requirement of the process as the whole Forest (i.e., the Allegheny itself was the "site" in "site-specific"). This interpretation resulted in something the U.S. Forest Service ANF officials call the Transition Environmental Impact Statement (TEIS). The Federal Court granting an injunction requested by the oil and gas companies to stop the Environmental Analysis truncated this process last December. The TEIS remains "on-hold" (according to the USFS). Although the majority of oil and gas companies operating in the forest did not cooperate with the U.S. Forest Service while they attempted to minimize and mitigate the damage the drillers would do to the public surface of the Forest, the U.S. Forest Service did identify 20 areas and sub-areas that they knew would be impacted by drilling in the next three year period (although they pulled the known Marcellus Shale gas well sites from the analysis). These oil and gas drilling operations the U.S. Forest Service calls TEIS Part I.