Today's Times-Tribune reports that John Quigley, the acting secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Pennsylvania's top conservation official, has serious concerns about balancing deep-well drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation in Northcentral Pennsylvania with the interests of hikers, hunters, campers and timber companies that also use state forest land.
As he prepares to receive bids for drilling on the 32,000 acres of state forest land in the Marcellus Shale formation, Quigley points out that the move to begin extracting natural gas from parks that are part of the formation will link our state's conservation agenda with resource extraction for the next fifty years.
As DCNR leans more heavily on natural resource development to offset losses in support from tax dollars, big questions remain about how to balance our state park system with what could become one hundred deep-drilling wells, each with a footprint of about 10 acres, on land formerly dedicated primarily to public use.
There are many legal issues surrounding this formation, some of which include the approval of water withdrawals, permitting water impoundments, erosion and sedimentation controls, wastewater discharges and treatment and complying with local land use and zoning for ancillary facilities.
If you or someone you know has been personally affected by the development of this formation or if you believe you will be affected in the future, then your should seek representation from Pennsylvania Attorney Patrick M. Rogan as soon as possible to make sure your rights are protected.
All of us should voice our own concerns to our elected officials both now and next year, when our state's park and forest systems will likely become an issue in our candidates' campaigns for governor.