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On June 17-19 Allegheny Defense Project will meet near the confluence of Salmon Creek and The Branch (a tributary of Salmon Creek) for our Spring Outing. Follow this link to a map of the camp location and/or see illustrations below. The easiest path to the site is from Route 666 crossing the bridge over Salmon Creek at Kelletville near Cougar Bobs. We will make camp Friday evening (June 17), starting at 5pm. The camp will be beside the Branch where the North Country Scenic Trail crosses FR 127 (AKA the Branch Ridge Road) and meets The Branch. Saturday morning we will discuss issues and strategy in a Forest Watch update. Saturday afternoon we will hike and backpack as far as we like on the North Country Trail and spend Saturday night on the trail. Please bring all of your own gear and food (including device to filter water). Our base camp Friday night (June 17) will be a primitive camp with no facilities. Saturday night (June 18) will be backpacking hiking and camping.

If you do not have gear but would like to join us for the base camp or backpack camp we may be able to outfit you with some items. Please contact us below if you need gear or have questions.

Please also feel free to join us for socializing and Forest Watch update Friday evening or Saturday morning even if you do not intend to camp.

Contact: Office: 814-454-7523 Cell: 814-520-4639 (We will be unable to communicate by phone after noon Thursday June 16).

Spring Outing (right click for larger image)

Spring Outing Location


Download Related Documents Below

November 23 Press Release July 26 Press Release
November 15 Letter to John Hanger July 26 Letter to John Hanger
Response from DEP All Documents
Response from ANF File Review Documents

 

 

November 23, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cathy Pedler – (814) 454-7523
Bill Belitskus – (814) 778-5173
Ryan Talbott – (503) 887-7845

Department Of Environmental Protection Admits It Has No Authority To Permit Water Withdrawals For Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling In Western Pennsylvania

Nonetheless, DEP continues to encourage illegal water withdrawals

On July 26, the Allegheny Defense Project sent a letter to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger challenging the agency’s statutory authority to permit water withdrawals for Marcellus Shale gas drilling in western Pennsylvania. Marcellus Shale gas drilling requires millions of gallons of water for the High Volume Slick-water Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing process. In central and eastern Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna and Delaware River Basin Commissions have authority to permit water withdrawals. There is no commission with such authority in western Pennsylvania, however, and the DEP lacks statutory authority under state law to issue water withdrawal permits.

In his response to the Allegheny Defense Project, Secretary Hanger acknowledges that the DEP’s approval of a “water management plan” (WMP) does not, in fact, constitute an actual authorization to withdraw water from streams, lakes, and rivers.  Secretary Hanger responded with the following disclaimer:

“DEP’s approval of [a Water Management Plan] does not give the operator any real or personal property rights, or the right to access water. For example, this approval does not grant or confer to the operator any right, title, easement, or interest in, to or over any land, including that of a riparian owner. Moreover, this approval does not obviate the necessity of the operator to obtain the proper consent from the riparian landowner and to comply with federal, state, and local legal requirements and common law regarding property rights. Rather, DEP’s WMP approval is intended to ensure that an operator’s use of water for natural gas well development does not violate Pennsylvania statutory law. For these reasons, DEP does not require an operator to notify riparian landowners or demonstrate that it has authority to make a water withdrawal.” (emphasis added)

Secretary Hanger’s claim that the WMP process is not viewed by the DEP as an authorization to withdraw water is contradicted by the DEP’s own documents. For example, on May 11, 2010, the DEP sent a letter to East Resources regarding the company’s proposal to add the Allegheny River as a new water withdrawal source to its existing WMP. DEP “approved” East Resources to withdraw 600,000 gallons of water per day from the Allegheny River.

“It is disingenuous for DEP to claim that its approval of a WMP for Marcellus Shale gas companies is not actually a permit to withdraw water,” said Bill Belitskus, Board President for the Allegheny Defense Project. “When the DEP sends letters to gas companies telling them they are ‘approved’ to withdraw specific amounts of water, it defies logic for the DEP to turn around and argue that it has not authorized a water withdrawal.”

Unable to cite legal authority to permit water withdrawals by Marcellus drillers from western Pennsylvania’s waterways, Secretary Hanger’s head-in-the-sand approach rises to intentional malfeasance when he states, “DEP does not require an operator to notify riparian landowners or demonstrate that it has authority to make a water withdrawal.” Instead, Secretary Hanger erroneously claims that its up to “the operator to obtain the proper consent from the riparian landowner” to withdraw water from western Pennsylvania waterways.

It must be noted that under Pennsylvania riparian law that, “a riparian owner has no property right in the water per se, but rather only a right to use the water on the riparian land. Accordingly, diversions for uses elsewhere are not protected by common law.”  In other words, riparian landowners cannot sell water nor access to water under riparian rights common law; so the DEP’s assertion about operators obtaining “proper consent from the riparian landowner” is absurd on its face.

“What is truly upsetting about Secretary Hanger’s response is that while he acknowledges on the one hand the DEP has no authority to permit water withdrawals, on the other hand he refuses to require proof that these companies have any legal authority to withdraw water in the first place,” said Cathy Pedler, Forest Watch Coordinator for the Allegheny Defense Project. The DEP should not issue any more drilling permits for any oil and gas drilling until companies can demonstrate that they have a legal right to withdraw water from Pennsylvania’s waterbodies.”

#

[1] Craig M. Wilson, “Water Resources,” ch. in Pa. Environmental Law and Practice, Terry R. Bossert & Joel R. Burcat, eds. (5th Ed. 2008), PBI No. 5203, p. 189.


ADP sent the following Forest Watch report to the United States Forest Service (USFS), PA Fish and Boat Commission (PAFBC), the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Seneca Nation:

On August 21, 2010 an Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) Forest Watch Team investigated Oil and Gas drilling projects on Wolf Run Road and FR 370 (off of FR 202 north of Route 346/West Washington Street) in the extreme northeastern portion of the Allegheny National Forest. The drilling

areas we investigated (shown with red bubbles in image on above) are the projects of US Energy Development Corporation, of 2350 N Forest Rd Getzville, NY. This area falls within the Quaker Run Watershed and includes the tributaries of Yeager Brook, Chander Run, and Coon Run. On FR 370 ADP found multiple, flagrant violations in the new oil and gas drilling site—including (but not limited to) the Warrant 4917 Project; Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Well ID 083-53756, 083-53758, 083-53668, 083-53670, and 083-53679. See Map of Drilling Areas Here: http://www.communitywalk.com/location_info/480190/6798502

This area was defined by the USFS as Transitional Environmental Impact Statement (TEIS) Area 1a. The TEIS areas were developed under a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process that the USFS initiated after the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE), Allegheny Defense Project (ADP), and Sierra Club filed a complaint against the USFS in Federal Court (FSEEE et al. v USFS) because the USFS was not applying NEPA to private oil and gas developments on the ANF. The illustration below shows the wells planned by the oil and gas industry (as of Spring 2009), including US Energy, for the northern portion of the ANF. Each green dot in the illustration is one well.

Figure 2 TEIS Area 1, Each Green Dot = 1 Well

The USFS agreed to apply NEPA to private oil and gas developments on the ANF in a settlement between the plaintiffs and the USFS in early 2009. Shortly thereafter, the oil and gas industry filed a complaint in Federal Court against FSEEE, Allegheny Defense Project, the Sierra Club, the Department of Justice, and the USFS, and subsequently requested a preliminary injunction against the settlement reached in our complaint against the USFS (Minard Run Oil et al. v USFS et al.) In December 2009, a Federal Judge granted the request for a Preliminary Injunction, which allows oil and gas drilling to continue on the ANF while Minard Run Oil et al. v USFS et al. works its way through court. In the meantime, FSEEE, Allegheny Defense Project, and Sierra Club appealed the Preliminary Injunction to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. The USFS also appealed the Preliminary Injunction.

Residents and Camp owners in the area of Wolf Run Road have been alarmed at the impact drilling in the Allegheny National Forest is having on the Forest ecosystem and on their enjoyment of their homes and camps. Some of these citizens are primary residents of New York State with recreational properties in the footprint of the ANF. Recently they received letters from US Energy Development Corporation notifying them that US Energy planned to drill in the vicinity of their water wells, springs, and homes.

Along with the letters, came surveyors with stakes, pink ribbons, spray paint, and signs warning families that they soon would be only a few hundred feet from a hazardous waste area.

Concern of the citizens living in the area was also heightened when they learned of the contamination of Yeager Brook from the US Energy drilling in their area. The figures throughout this document show the severe impact of oil and gas drilling on the forested landscape.

The Forest Watch Team investigating FR 370 in the Yeager Brook Watershed documented three unlined fracking pits (see figures below). The unlined pits violate 25 PA Code §78.57(c) 2vi, which requires all fracking pits be impermeable. Further, all pits are required to have sloped sides (25 PA Code §78.57(c) 2v).
The poorly constructed oil and gas roads at this site and others throughout the ANF use local acidic sandstone, which causes sedimentation and acidification of streams and waterways. The conditions in the US Energy Development drilling area in the headwaters of Quaker Run are appalling. Erosion and Sedimentation Controls, for example, have failed or are absent. We witnessed roads and a well site built on springs, and sediment clogging culverts and running off the roads into the tributaries of Quaker Run.

Another very important issue involves the illegal taking of surface water for drilling and fracking activities in this area, throughout the ANF, and across western Pennsylvania. On July 26, 2010, the Allegheny Defense Project sent a certified letter to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary, John Hanger outlining DEP’s illegal practice of authorizing water withdrawals from surface waters, which are governed by Riparian Rights under Pennsylvania Common Law (see Attachment 1). Subsequently, ADP also sent a similar letter to ANF Forest Service Supervisor Leanne Marten (see Attachment 2). During our investigation we witnessed equipment in the US Energy drilling area positioned to take water from Yeager Brook. We also noted and documented the illegal damming of Yeager Brook to create a pool deep enough for their hose to draw water (see figure above). The stream in this area is very shallow, not even wetting the top of one’s boots when standing in the stream (see figure left). The water withdrawals are significant enough in shallow oil and gas well drilling like this one to run streams dry; but the future of the area is very likely to see Marcellus Shale gas drilling which uses millions of gallons of water each time a well is fracked. If this practice is not stopped now, you may find yourself with a much-altered watershed.

The US Energy drilling site also has tank batteries with leaks; permeable tank battery dike walls; inadequate dike volume to contain a spill; and no erosion and sedimentation controls (see figure below). Further, it is likely that these tank battery facilities, which clearly hold more than 1,320 gallons of oil, are also lacking Spill Prevention Containment and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans, which companies are required to develop with the Environmental Protection Agency. ADP is in the process of coordinating a FOIA file review with the ANF for any documents the USDA has relating to these plans.

Please also note that if you multiply the examples cited in text above and illustrated in pictures below by the 12,000 to 15,000 active oil and gas wells and 2,236 miles of oil and gas roads currently on the Allegheny National Forest (plus associated infrastructure of tank batteries, brine and fracking pits, compressors, generators, electric lines, gas lines, etc.) you will be able to understand the intensity of the impact that the oil and gas industry is having in Pennsylvania on our National Forest.

We request that you investigate the violations outlined above and in the pictures below, and the effect that this damaging industrial development is having on the Allegheny National Forest, the Allegheny State Park, and the Quaker Run Watershed. We also insist that the USFS and the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), as riparian owners or downstream riparians, put an end to the illegal withdrawals of surface waters by oil and gas drillers. We request that the USFS, PA Fish and Boat Commission, the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Seneca Nation take all necessary actions to protect the Quaker Run Watershed.

Read More


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 2010
Alex Lotorto, 570.269.9589 

Jaime Robertson, 412.425.0822
Liam Swanson, 412.398.0842
Frack U Counter Summit To Dig Into Marcellus Shale Drilling
“No fracking way,” say Pennsylvania residents to hydro-fracking and shale gas drilling

Pittsburgh, PA – On Saturday and Sunday, October 30 through October 31, residents from across the Marcellus region will participate in Frack University at the University of Pittsburgh’s David Lawrence Hall, a counter-summit to oppose shale gas drilling – with natural gas industry executives gathering for a summit on drilling at the David Lawrence Convention Center the following week.

The two day Frack U summit [ www.frackuniversity.blogspot.com ] was organized by members of the Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition, Free The Planet (University of Pittsburgh), Pitt Students for a Democratic Society, and members of the Marcellus Protest Coalition. The event is free to the public. 

Frack U will feature a 10am Panel of Affected Community Members, a press conference on Saturday at 1:15pm on the steps of David Lawrence Hall, a 1:30pm Pittsburgh premiere screening of the documentary All Fracked Up with directors Jeff and Jodi Andrysick, a Halloween-themed anti-fracking variety show at 7pm Saturday night, and a caravaning Haunted Farm Frack or Treat Tour of Hickory, PA leaving on Sunday at noon from the Cathedral of Learning on Bigelow Blvd.

Community members, as well as students and youth, will also be meeting in workshops and discussion groups throughout the weekend to discuss social movement strategy for ending the use of dangerous hydraulic fracturing to procure natural gas from the Marcellus Shale by exposing its risks and driving down shareholder confidence.

Liam Swanson, a sophomore and member of Pitt Students for a Democratic Society, said, “Politicians, investors, and of course, the gas companies are lined up to get a piece of the Marcellus shale. That’s why we organized this free conference for working people and affected communities, to enjoy each other’s company and support coalition building. There are only two sides, ‘for’ or ‘against’ fracking here, and Frack U attendees are against, hence the name.”

Specific strategy discussions will include community monitoring and enforcement of environmental quality standards, trucking violations, and public health, passing local bans and tighter legislation to make the process more expensive for drillers, using the courts to file injunctions under the Endangered Species Act, multi-plaintiff lawsuits, and permit appeals, advocating for alternative, sustainable energy to displace the need for natural gas, focusing on shareholders and organizational financial divestment from drilling, and creative protest methods to win the hearts and minds of decision makers or even challenge them.

Alex Lotorto, a labor union delegate for the Industrial Workers of the World and Marcellus Protest member, said, “I’m here because the Delaware River watershed where I grew up is slated to be fracked. I’m here to protect myself, my family’s health, air, water, and the value of my home. I moved to Pittsburgh when I wanted to find a good job that didn’t require me to destroy the place in which I live and is going to stick around for a while. This ‘frack and leave’ gravy train isn’t right for Pennsylvania or working people. Soon it will be gone, like steel and coal.”

Marcellus Protest, [ www.marcellusprotest.org ], is an alliance of western PA residents, building a movement to stop the destruction of the environment and communities caused by Marcellus Shale gas drilling.

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) [ www.iww.org ] is a labor union for workers in every industry formed in 1905. The Pittsburgh branch opposes the use of hydraulic fracturing as a method to procure natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and, instead, supports a move towards sustainable energy production.

The Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition (PSEC) [ www.pittsburghsec.wordpress.com ], started in November of 2009, is a collective of youth-run environmental organizations working to promote positive environmental change in Pittsburgh and beyond by empowering youth to take action in their own communities. PSEC helps to unify and strengthen the voices of Pittsburgh youth by providing a forum for communication, sharing resources, and fellowship. Green Horizons [Chatham University], Evergreen [Duquesne University], Free the Planet [University of Pittsburgh], Engineers For A Sustainable World [University of Pittsburgh], Sustainable Earth [Carnegie Mellon University],  The School of Life [Community College of Allegheny College], The Blue Green Alliance, and Sierra Student Coalition / Sierra Club.

Free The Planet (FTP) [ www.pittenvironmental.org/groups/ftp ] is a student environmental organization at the University of Pittsburgh working on campus and in the community to foster awareness about important environmental issues while taking action to resolve them. FTP’s primary goal is to creatively instill a passion for sustainable, environmentally friendly, and healthy living in Pitt’s student body and beyond.

Pitt Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) [ www.newsds.org ] is a collection of individuals dedicated to offering sensible alternatives to mainstream political and social ideologies. SDS hopes to provide a bridge between students and the larger community in which they live, in a way that fosters activism and mutual aid across the traditional borders, such as gender, sexuality, color or class.


The Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) is holding its 17th Annual Fall Gathering at Loleta in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) September 17-19th. Please join us for camping, hiking, rappelling, foraging, music, food and fun! Please RSVP so we can plan for food (we will asking for donations for each meal, ca $15 for the weekend) Meals are vegan and vegetarian, but feel free to bring your own veg or non-veg supplies to supplement.

We will be setting up camp on Friday September 17th in a group camp area at the Loleta Camping Facility in the ANF (see map here, and image below, Download Loleta Map). The camping area is on the north/east side of Loleta Road (AKA State Route 3002)–that is the left side of the road if you are heading south; the right side of the road if you are heading north. We will be in the Millstone Group Camp area.

“What is the “Fall Gathering”?

It’s a family oriented event providing time for Allegheny Defense Project members, supporters and “environmentally conscious” individuals to come together in the fall to camp, hike, eat and learn about issues impacting the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania’s only national forest.

The Allegheny Defense Project is an organization founded on principles of non-violence. We request that participants do not bring any illegal substances. Your well-behaved pets are always welcome.

Friday the 17th: Set-up camp in the afternoon. 6PM Dinner; 7PM Author of Hartwell Road, Reg Darling will lead a discussion on memoir/journal writing.
Saturday the 18th: 9AM Forest Watch issues tour; 3PM ADP presentation on the State of the Forest; 6PM dinner; 7PM Music by Stan Barton and Matt Homan; 9:30PM night hike led by John Stoneman of Allegheny Outdoor Adventures.

Sunday the 19th: explore Buzzard Swamp (biking tour), local geocaches, trails, etc.

Please bring feel free to bring bikes, GPS (for geocaching and hiking), canoes and kayaks, fishing equipment, and musical instruments. There will always be coffee, food, and a fire at the camp so join us anytime during the weekend.

The schedule is flexible and you can come out and spend whatever time you have whether its for one event, a meal, any day, the whole weekend, or just stop by for the campfire in the evening. If you can provide a dish, or can help with kitchen duties please let us know 🙂 Please also bring all of your own camping equipment including cup, plate, and spoon. If you would like to join us, but do not have equipment, we may be able to hook you up with some…let us know!

To RSVP and for more information contact:

Cathy Pedler
(814)454-7523
cpedler@alleghenydefense.org

Mary Belitskus
(814)778-5173
mbelitskus@alleghenydefense.org


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Cathy Pedler – (814) 454-7523
Bill Belitskus – (814) 778-5173
Ryan Talbott – (503) 887-7845

Department of Environmental Protection Unlawfully Permitting Water Withdrawals For Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling in Western Pennsylvania
Only riparian owners can make use of water in streams and rivers

Natural gas companies have descended on Pennsylvania’s forests and farmlands to drill into the Marcellus Shale.  Each Marcellus Shale gas well requires millions of gallons of water for the drilling process.  That water is taken from Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers under the alleged authority of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  The DEP, however, does not have the authority to permit water withdrawals in Pennsylvania.

In central and eastern Pennsylvania, water withdrawals are managed by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Delaware River Basin Commission.  Congress created the two commissions as federal-interstate compacts with the authority to permit water withdrawals within their respective basins.  The rest of Pennsylvania, most of which is in the Ohio River basin, is governed by riparian rights common law, which allows only the owner of property along a watercourse to withdraw water for use on their land.  There is no state law regulating water withdrawals other than for municipal drinking water supplies.

In a letter sent to DEP Secretary John Hanger, the Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) outlined the current state of Pennsylvania law regarding water withdrawals and charged the DEP with operating an unauthorized water withdrawal program that allows natural gas companies to take water that they have no legal right to for their Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations…Read More


July 26, 2010

Via Electronic Mail and Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested

John Hanger, Secretary
Department of Environmental Protection
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Dear Secretary Hanger:

Marcellus Shale gas drilling poses significant risks to Pennsylvania’s waterways, both in terms of water quality and quantity.  Drilling a Marcellus Shale gas well requires millions of gallons of water that drilling companies withdraw from our streams and rivers.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) website, in addition to several media reports and documents obtained through recent file reviews, the DEP is purportedly authorizing water withdrawals for Marcellus Shale gas drilling under an allegedly comprehensive regulatory scheme that protects Pennsylvania’s waterways.  The fact is, however, that any purported “approval” or “authorization” or “permitting” by the DEP of a surface water withdrawal in western Pennsylvania would be clearly illegal, beyond the DEP’s statutory authority and in direct contravention of the rights of those who hold valid surface water rights under Pennsylvania law.  At best, the DEP’s recent conduct discussed below amounts to the DEP intentionally ignoring and facilitating illegal water withdrawals by numerous Marcellus shale drilling operations.  At worst, the DEP is, in direct violation of its authority under Pennsylvania law, purporting to authorize the withdrawal of water by entities that in fact also have no legal right to make such withdrawals under Pennsylvania law.

There are two major problems with the DEP’s actions with regard to “approvals” of water withdrawals by Marcellus shale drillers.  First, any notion that the DEP has a comprehensive regulatory scheme in place to keep a check on water withdrawals for Marcellus Shale gas drilling is simply erroneous.  In fact, water resources law in Pennsylvania “is not guided by any comprehensive statutory or regulatory program.”1 Second, and most importantly, the DEP actually has no authority whatsoever to authorize or permit water withdrawals in Pennsylvania. In other words, if the DEP “authorizes” or “permits” water withdrawals for Marcellus Shale gas drilling, it is acting without authority and encouraging unlawful conduct…Read More


July 22nd the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held one of four public hearings  for a study on Hydraulic Fracturing that will look for potential relationships between the process and drinking water resources. The EPA held the meeting in a Hotel in the the Southpointe Industrial Park near Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which also happens to be the base for Chesapeake Energy, Columbia Gas Of Maryland Inc., CONSOL Energy Inc.,  EOG Resources Inc., Halliburton, Range Resources, and Reliant Energy. Over 1,000 attended the event according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. The majority of the citizen speakers spoke out against the drilling practice and many called for a moratorium. Industry supporters described the outcry against the drilling process as “…anti-capitalist demonization and misinformation…

Cecil Township Police were present at the event, including two K9 vehicles. Two officers were stationed at the public comment podiums so that they could, according to the night’s moderator from  The Cadmus Group, Inc., escort those giving public comment back to their seats if they did not stop speaking immediately after their allotted 2 minutes expired. One hundred and thirty speakers gave their input to the EPA.

Bill Belitskus, Walt Atwood, and I attended the event along with many others concerned about the  the oil and gas industry’s use of Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania. Myron Arnowitt of Clean Water Action, Peter Wray and Claudia Kirkpatrick of the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club, Nadia Steinzor of the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project, and the Green Party’s Mel Packer to name a few. Although Police and the the Hilton Garden Inn manager had no problem with an oil and gas industry demonstration on the sidewalk at the front entrance to the hotel, Police and the Hotel management chased an environmental coalition’s press conference around their grounds attempting to interfere with the press event (See Video). Clean Water Action’s Myron Arnowitt, who organized the event, eventually persuaded the Police to allow the group to speak with reporters.

Inside, we lined up with the others who wished to speak to get yellow bracelets with numbers showing the order in which we would share our comments with the EPA. Our numbers were keyed to our names and affiliations so that the moderator and the Police escorts could keep track of us as we stood in line waiting for our chance to speak. AP’s Marc Levy reported on some of those giving comments,

Darrell Smitsky said five of his goats died mysteriously and, even though state regulators told him the water was safe, his own test showed sky-high levels of manganese and iron. When he blamed the drilling company, he said, it responded, “Can you prove it?”

Read More

Photos By Bill Belitskus, Walt Atwood, Cathy Pedler


A Report on the NCT Allegheny 100 Challenge and Small Whorled Pogonia Survey in the Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Areas

The adventure started June 18 at the North Country Trail Head on RT 346 near the New York border. John Stoneman, of Allegheny Outdoor Adventures, and I arrived just as the other hikers were starting out. Boots hit the trail at 6PM sharp. The event was the North Country National Trail ANF Chapter’s Allegheny 100 Challenge. Hikers were traveling between 25 and 100 miles on the North Country Trail in the Allegheny National Forest between June 18 and June 20.

John, more competitive and in shape than I, would have burned the trail up with the rest of the group, but he was kind enough to take a more leisurely pace with me. I had only committed to 25 miles rather than pushing for 100. We had parked a car at Sugar Bay planning to at least hike the entire Tracy Ridge section that evening, but some of the other hikers were going to try to make it all the way to Chappel Bay that evening (a full 25 miles). Our plan was to hike at night, but to be off the trail and back to Tracy Ridge for camping by 10 or 11PM.

The sunset hike was beautiful. The water reflected and magnified the evening light, fortunately long into the twilight. The trail was relatively easy except for a few inclines that caused my heart and lungs to jump out of my body and smack me around for using them without sufficient warning.

We eventually caught up with some of the hikers who were resting at one of the trail’s many springs and streamlets that trickle down to the Allegheny River Reservoir. We passed the hikers for a short time but regrouped with them after dark, posing for a picture by an abandoned artifact from previous episodes of human stupidity in the Allegheny (see picture below). Oil and gas debris became a theme on day two of my hike in the Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Areas, where we were looking for Pogonias, but kept stumbling onto pipes, and tanks.

As it does, the sun finally left us and night came in full. There were moonbeams dappling the path. Unfortunately, John and I—who had again fallen away from the hiking group at the insistence of my internal organs—had turned out our lights to hike by, and admire, the moonlight. We missed our turnoff to Sugar Bay and proceeded unwittingly toward the Hopewell Camping area. John took a nice spill on the way down to Hopewell, but caught himself with his forehead on a large, flat log. He shook it off pretty well. After we discovered our mistake at Hopewell and turned around to hike back to our missed turn (adding another few miles to our evening adventure), I took a tumble going uphill, which is a lot harder to do, but hurts less than the way John did it. Eventually, we made it out to RT 321, to the car, and to Tracy Ridge for a dinner of cheese curds and Pringles. It was sometime after 1PM. We were bruised, and beat. John looked forward to his hot tub. I looked forward to 10 more miles the next day…Read More


Documents from a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) show that there are currently plans for five Marcellus Shale gas wells on the public lands of the Allegheny National Forest (ANF).

Three of the wells are planned by East Resources (Royal Dutch Shell) including,

1) one well in the Glad Run watershed,

2) a well on FR 444 in the Chaffee Run watershed (headwaters of the South Branch Of Tionesta Creek), and

3) one well in the Log Run watershed (East Branch of Millstone Creek).

Pennsylvania General Energy is planning

4) one well on Coalbed Run.

Hanley & Bird is planning

5) one well on Pine Run (headwaters of Big Mill Creek).

In addition to these five wells there are nine wells in the footprint of the ANF on private in-holdings or on State Gamelands (i.e., No. 28, and No. 24). There are a total of 92 Marcellus Shale gas wells in the four county area of the ANF, including Warren, Forest, McKean, and Elk counties. The image on the right links to a map that plots the Marcellus Shale gas well drilling sites with well and company data…Read More