July 30--STATE COLLEGE -- People concerned about the impact gas drilling could have on a sensitive area of Loyalsock State Forest will get a chance to comment on any agreement the state strikes with drillers.
The state plans to release to the public any proposed agreements with two companies that have rights to the gas and oil beneath part of the Lycoming County forest, the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources secretary said Wednesday.
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"This is a very unique situation," Dan Devlin, head of the DCNR's forestry division, said during a meeting of his department's Natural Gas Advisory Committee. As reasons, he noted disputes about access to the area and "public interest in this."
The companies' move to drill has been a topic of debate in the state for more than a year and a point of criticism from environmentalists concerned about damage to sensitive areas of the forest. Negotiations center on a 25,000-acre tract in the forest known as Clarence Moore lands.
The department said it's committed to protecting the land, a trail and waterways there; limiting pipelines and roads; and controlling noise from compressors.
The committee planned to discuss rules covering Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to allow new leases for drilling below state forest and park land as long as the activities don't disturb the surface. The committee is looking to clarify the concept of "non-surface disturbance leasing."
Corbett this month agreed to not sign new leases until state judges make rulings on a lawsuit regarding the plan.