Federal Court Rules on Drilling In PA National Forest
A federal appeals court ruling may open the door to more Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. It also sheds light on the confusing issue of surface and mineral rights. Because of the way state law is written, surface and mineral rights are sold separately. That means a person can sell land to the state or federal government, and still maintain control over whether or not drilling can take place there.
Here’s the AP report on yesterday’s ruling:
A U.S. appeals court has thrown out a ban on drilling in the Allegheny National Forest in western Pennsylvania, concluding that the government only controls surface rights, not the mineral rights below.
The mineral rights are privately owned, and those owners should enjoy reasonable access to the surface to drill for oil and gas below, the three-judge panel in Philadelphia ruled.
Tuesday’s ruling is a setback for the National Forest Service, which — under pressure from the Sierra Club and other environmental groups — decided not to issue permits until an environmental impact study of the entire forest could be completed. Before 2009, drilling permits had been routinely issued in a “cooperative process” with owners, after they gave 60 days’ notice.