Archive for the ‘NEPA’ Category

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

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On May 4, 2010, four days after a Howard Drilling oil spill was reported in the Warren Times Observer, “Oil Spill In ANF Contained By Dike,” an Allegheny Defense Project team hiked several miles up gated Forest Service Road FR 261 to investigate the spill.  Upon arriving at a Howard Drilling tank battery, ADP discovered a spill that had, in fact, breached the dike and flowed several hundred feet downhill toward Mud Lick Run (see photo on right, Mud lick run photo below).

At the site, the scent of oil permeated the air and some of the soil was still blackened with oily residue.  The ADP team investigating the Howard Drilling spill saw evidence that workers had cleared soil from a large area within the dike, and from a wide path that ran over the dike and downhill toward Mud Lick Run. The affected area had been covered with straw, gravel, and seed. According to the April 30 Warren Times Observer article, the spill on FR 261 had been contained within the tank battery’s dike. According to the article, the spill was discovered by ANF officials and reported to the DEP, who in turn alerted Howard Drilling, who subsequently told the PA State Police that someone else was responsible for the spilled oil. The spill that the Allegheny Defense Project discovered on FR 261 on May 4, 2010, was very obviously not contained by a tank battery dike (see more photos below). See Also alleghenydefense.org.

Above: Apparent spill path (covered with straw) running downhill from tank battery

Above: Top of dike with evidence of spill on both the inside and outside dike wall

Above: Note path of cleared soil with straw on wall and top of dike

Above: Evidence of spill inside dike, soil cleared and covered with straw

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ADP Investigates Snyder Brothers 2008 Oil Spill Sites; Finds Valves Still Unlocked and Evidence of More Spills

A team of Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) volunteers discovered that all is not well on FR 267 and FR 269, the sites of a major oil spill two years ago. At these sites, disgruntled former employees of Snyder Brothers, Inc. let loose more than 40,000 gallons of oil that fouled Indian Run, Chappel Fork Creek, and the Allegheny River Reservoir. On May 22, 2010 ADP staff, board, and volunteers visited the sites involved in the spill, observed that the there have been subsequent dike breeches, and that the valves on the same tank batteries that were tampered with in 2008 are still unlocked two years later. The valves pictured here are located at the back of the tanks in the Snyder Brother development on FR 269. Workers use these valves to drain brine water, but if left unattended, they will also drain oil from the tanks. The photo on the left shows the unlocked valve. The photo on the right shows the brine water tank, which given its horizontal placement, will only hold about half its total volume before water and oil spill out of the hole where the liquid is supposed to enter (which apparently has happened at the Snyder Brothers site pictured here). The tank battery dikes are filled with gravel. For oil to pool as it is in the photos here the gravel-filled tank battery dikes must be saturated with oil.

On FR 267 at the tank battery, and gravel pit near Hemlock Run, ADP noted a recent spill or seepage from what appeared to be a newly expanded or repaired dike…Read More

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By Forest Watch Staff

Take Action on Pine Bear!

The Pine Bear Project, located on 10,055 acres in the southeastern part of the Allegheny National Forest (ANF), proposes approximately 3,000 acres of even-aged logging—1,324 acres of which is clearcuts and 1,781 acres staged clearcuts (see location). Additionally, the project calls for 2,294 acres of other “treatments,” 1,483 acres of herbiciding, 105 acres of burning every 3 to 5 years, over 500 acres of fencing, 12 acres of stone pit expansion, and 2.5 miles of new road.

Within the Pine Bear project boundary are high quality aquatic habitats, which will be adversely affected by the actions proposed in the Pine Bear project (e.g., by clearcutting, and herbiciding). Bear Creek is classified as a High Quality, Cold Water Fishery, which must be afforded special protection. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Fish And Boat Commission recognizes Bear Creek as well as the streams and creeks listed below as Naturally Reproducing Trout Streams.

Stream Tributary to
Bear Creek Clarion River
Pigeon Run Bear Creek
Maple Run Bear Creek
Pine Run Bear Creek
Twin Lick Run Bear Creek
Red Lick Run Bear Creek

These important aquatic habitats must be protected. The proposed action in the Pine Bear project will damage these streams and creeks with increased runoff and siltation, stream warming from canopy openings, and pollution from herbicide applications. The USFS must conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to determine the impact of the project on these important aquatic habitats and on the species that inhabit them.

The northwest area of the Pine Bear Project includes the Sackett oil field seen in the sattelite image below. This area has been heavily fragmented and impacted by oil and gas drilling.

Also note previous clear-cut activities in image above. Some of these resulted from the East Side and Mortality I projects. Now the U.S. Forest Service intends to layer additional impacts on an area already hit hard by industrialization and extraction.

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Take Action on Pine Bear!

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By Megan Rulli, Allegheny Defense Project Outreach Coordinator

Friends of Rimrock

The Allegheny Defense Project spent Earth Day this year with the Friends of Rimrock, Tracy Ridge Forest Watch, and Allegheny Outdoor Adventures, cleaning up Rimrock for the 2010 season. Our plan was to clear trails, pick up trash, picnic, and do some climbing and rappelling. We expected the trash scattered around – we were not prepared for the heart wrenching view afforded us at the scenic overlook.

Apparently as part of the Categorically Excluded Rimrock Overlook to Kinzua Beach Pathway Project, the Forest Service has destroyed the scenic overlook at Rimrock and created an extreme safety hazard with a tangled field of cut down trees for visitors who try to explore the boulder field below the rock face – a prime attractor for visitors to Rimrock. ADP provided scoping comments for the Project, and is currently working on a response to Bradford Ranger Scardina’s Decision. The Bradford Ranger District’s signage explaining “What’s Going on Here?” failed to clear up the reasoning behind the dramatic cut one hundred feet below the scenic overlook.  In the name of repairing the view, the Forest Service cut approximately fifty of the largest trees and left the debris scattered below. The Allegheny Defense Project is appalled by Rimrock’s makeover, and continues to be concerned with recreation or restoration projects that become paired with major Forest Service actions without sufficient or official public input or environmental analysis. Read More

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FR 219 No NEPA. Area 15

It’s spring! In the Allegheny National Forest this means oil and gas drillers will continue drilling thousands more oil and gas wells, and cutting hundreds of miles of new roads into an already heavily fragmented forest. We need your help! Because of a very bad decision last December in the Federal District Court of Western Pennsylvania (Minard Run Oil Company et al. v. USFS et al.), which enjoined a settlement reached in our lawsuit (FSEEE, Sierra Club, and ADP v. USFS), this destruction is moving forward without environmental analysis or public input while we appeal the disappointing decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Choose a threatened area in the Allegheny National Forest to monitor:

We recommend that you choose one of the TEIS Areas listed HERE (see background below for explanation of TEIS). We also highly recommend that you first contact us with your choice (see step 2), attend a training workshop, and conduct monitoring in teams of at least two.

Map of TEIS Drilling Areas

You may choose your area based on your favorite watershed or by your least-favorite drilling company. The image on the right is a community walk map, which shows the TEIS areas. This interactive map can help you locate your area on the ground (make sure you zoom-out to see the whole map, areas listed on the left of map link to locations). We also highly recommend purchasing an Allegheny National Forest Map from one of the ANF U.S. Forest Service Offices (word of caution: these maps are out of date and do not reflect all of the roads in the forest).

2. Contact our outreach coordinator Megan Rulli with your site choice at mrulli@alleghenydefense.org and sign up for the Forest Watch Team (read more).

If you are not specifically drawn to one of the imminently threatened areas (TEIS Areas), no worries, the whole forest needs guardians and watchers.

Yellow area of ANF predicted to be in "full-mine-out" condition

The U.S. Forest Service predicts that over two-thirds of the forest is threatened by “full-mine-out” conditions by the oil and gas industry (see image on the left, yellow area is “full mine-out area”). Full-mine-out is oil and gas wells spaced every 500 feet across the landscape with associated roads, tank batteries, generators, wastewater pits etc. On top of oil and gas drilling the U.S. Forest Service continues its even-aged logging practices (clearcutting, herbiciding, and fencing for high-value species). So if you have a favorite area almost anywhere in the ANF, it needs your watchful eyes, and attention.

3. Finally, if you are able, please support our Forest Watch program and ongoing litigation efforts (including an appeal of the decision mentioned above) by donating to ADP.

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mountain_r1_c3USFS (Warren, PA)—The Allegheny National Forest (ANF) is inviting the public (THIS MEANS YOU!) to comment on impacts to the forest’s landscape due to private oil and gas development. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the ANF is required to follow a process that informs the public and takes comment from the public when they make decisions and take actions on public land. Currently, the ANF is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The public should prepare written comments on the materials listed under Notice of Intent and Proposed Action (#1 – #16).

The maps and proposed action represent a fraction of the oil and gas development that is likely to occur on the forest in the next 2 to 5 years, however; even these numbers are staggering for the areas that are reported. Many of the oil and gas companies who own mineral rights under the forest and who plan to drill there have withheld their plans. “…The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association has strongly encouraged members not to provide information to the Forest Service,” reports Steve Rhodes, the president of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association (POGAM), in a letter to community and government leaders in McKean, Warren, Elk, and Forest Counties.
POGAM POGAM argues that the federal government and the citizens of the United States have no authority to regulate them in anyway on the surface of our federal, public lands (our forests, our streams, our habitat).

The deadline for public comment on the EIS is August 21st. The next public briefing on the EIS is August 18th on a noon conference call Dial 1-877-939-0384, passcode 9408961#. To subscribe to the Allegheny National Forest Transition EIS email list, send a message to anf_transition_eis@fs.fed.us requesting to be added to the list.

Comments should be directed to:

Lois DeMarco
Allegheny National Forest
4 Farm Colony Drive
Warren, PA 16365

Source: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny/projects/OGM_eis/step_1/index.php

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USFS (Warren, PA)—The Allegheny National Forest (ANF) has disclosed oil and gas development plans for the Tracy Ridge-Chestnut Ridge area which will, if allowed to proceed in their current configuration, obliterate this important recreation and habitat area on the ANF. Tracy Ridge and nearby Chestnut Ridge will be devastated by oil and gas development with almost 450 miles of new road construction, and the drilling of 1,707 wells (and all of the infrastructure associated with oil and gas development such as well pads, tank batteries, brine pits, generators and pipelines).

Tracy Ridge-Chestnut Ridge. Each Green Dot = 1 Well

Tracy Ridge-Chestnut Ridge. Each Green Dot = 1 Well

Recently, a lawsuit brought against the USFS by the Allegheny Defense Project (ADP), Sierra Club, and the Forest Service Employees For Environmental Ethics (FSEEE) resulted in the USFS following the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for private oil and gas developments. The NEPA process, which the USFS is now following on the Allegheny National Forest, has brought to light for public scrutiny the oil and gas development at Tracy Ridge-Chestnut Ridge. Other important recreation areas such as Rim Rock will also be heavily impacted by oil and gas development. The public must become involved in commenting on the surface destruction planned for these areas.

Source: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny/projects/OGM_eis/step_1/index.php

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