Report from Williamsport
People to DCNR: Conserve, Protect State Forest Habitat
Dr. Carol J. Kafer is a professor on the Natural Sciences Faculty of Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She is Associate Professor of Biology (anatomy & physiology).
Dr. Carol Kafer attended yesterday's meeting at Lycoming College in Williamsport, where representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources heard public comments regarding expanding shale gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest. She reports:
In my mind, the problem is pretty simple. By the state constitution, Tom Corbett's appointees must protect our state forests and they must allow the natural gas industry access to the gas. Can they do both? Yes! They can insist that the natural gas industry develop some better technology. They need a way to get the gas out of the ground without damaging our precious water supplies and they need to keep their drilling sites MILES away from sensitive areas. Can they do that? Yes, it is being done but it is expensive. This is another case of an industry making big bucks by not paying its fair share.
The auditorium was about three quarters full yesterday. I mostly went to hear what the DCNR had to say and the Marcellus Shale Program Manager for the DCNR, Arianne Proctor, put together a very informative presentation which will be posted on the DCNR website. It included Anadarko's proposal for development of the Clarence Moore Tract. The bottom line is that DCNR did not accept Anadarko's proposal and Anadarko has not submitted a new proposal -- they seem to be on hold. Further, a second gas development company holds part of the lease and they have submitted nothing. It may be years before anything happens here, and as you know, Tom Corbett may well be gone after the 2014 elections.
I left at 6:30 and there were still about 20 people in line who wanted to be heard. I did not hear anyone speak in favor of development. About two-thirds of the speakers were driven by their emotions. The ones who talked about facts probably carried more weight with the DCNR. An Audubon [Society] representative made it clear that developing only 2 percent of the tract will be devastating to bird life because the 2 percent is not all in one place -- it will subdivide the habitat. The most persuasive comments were simply quotes of things that were written by the DCNR itself.
I think the message was pretty simple: It is the DCNR's job to protect our forests. So...do your job!