Unfortunately, as PennFuture and other members of the Save the Loyalsock Coalition have come to understand in our struggle to protect an extraordinary tract of the Loyalsock State Forest in Lycoming County, DCNR is not currently required to inform or engage the public in a meaningful way as it makes significant decisions on the future of our public lands.
On Monday, July 28, the House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a hearing in Williamsport on legislation sponsored by Representative Rick Mirabito, D-Lycoming, that will give citizens much greater input into these decisions.
Please consider attending this important hearing as our public lands are under tremendous stress and threat from natural gas development. The hearing will run from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Lycoming College's Mary Lindsay Welch Honors Hall, located at East Fourth and Basin streets.
Representative Mirabito's House Bill 2318 will require much greater transparency and accountability on the part of DCNR by requiring the agency to provide public notice and seek public input before authorizing any major unconventional shale gas development on state forest lands. Specifically, HB 2318 requires:
- A public comment period
- At least one public hearing or meeting
- Access for the public during the comment period to proposed development plans
- That DCNR share with the public during the comment period the agency's analysis of the potential impacts of the proposed gas development on ecological, wildlife, recreational, cultural and aesthetic resources
The hearing agenda includes testimony from:
- Robert Cross, Responsible Drilling Alliance
- Mark Szybist, PennFuture
- Joanne Kilgour, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter
- John Childe, Jr., public interest attorney
- Harry Campbell, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
- Paul Zeph, Audubon Pennsylvania
- Cust Ashenfelter, Keystone Trails Association
Officials from DCNR and the drilling industry declined invitations to testify and provide their input.
The public lands of Penn's Woods urgently need our help. Please consider attending this hearing.
Steve Stroman is policy director for PennFuture and is based in Harrisburg.