After facing mounting public pressure regarding the possibility of expanding natural gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has agreed to hold a public meeting on the issue.
“DCNR is responding to requests that the public be given the chance to provide the department with information and comments on possible gas development in the Loyalsock, in an area where we do not own the subsurface rights,” DCNR Secretary Richard Allan said in a statement.
At issue is a 25,000 acre swath known as the Clarence Moore tract. Anadarko owns about 50 percent of the mineral rights. DCNR officials say they’re legally required to provide surface access. But environmentalists say the state has the authority to limit access to some of the most sensitive areas. Conservation groups have been actively pushing for a seat at the table.
Anadarko has offered the state $15 million dollars for access to drill, and DCNR made a counter offer of $22 million. The two parties have not yet come to an agreement.
The meeting will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, June 3 at Lycoming College in Williamsport.
“This meeting is the completion of a series of interactions with the public regarding this complicated and long-standing issue,” Allan said. “Including a local stakeholder meeting and a public web-based information session.”
The local stakeholder meeting last month was invitation-only and the DCNR was criticized by some environmental groups for not opening it to the public.
The June 3 meeting will start with a brief overview of the issue. Then questions will be answered by Secretary Allan, Marcellus Program Manager Arianne Proctor and State Forester Dan Devlin.
Following the question and answer session, attendees will have a chance to make comments with a five-minute time limit.