Thompson Discusses ANF Drilling Issues with Local Stakeholders
Washington, DC – U.S Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Howard, issued the following statement summarizing recent meetings he initiated between his staff and vested interests regarding the numerous issues surrounding the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) and local communities:
“I was not at all surprised to learn just how great of an impact the oil and gas industry has on the local economy. And what’s even more impressive is how great an economic impact this industry continues to have one hundred and fifty years after the discovery of oil in nearby Titusville.
“In two refineries alone, American Refining Group (ARG) and United Refining, employment is nearly one thousand strong. These are good paying, long term, family sustaining jobs – with an even greater number of workers in the many drilling companies and in supporting industries.
“So when the energy production business comes to a halt – so does the economy of the four counties surrounding the ANF. In this time of economic uncertainty, the impact of this industry is magnified and irreplaceable.”
Thompson went on to explain that mineral rights beneath ninety-three percent of the ANF are privately owned. He noted that on January 16, authority for issuing ‘Notice to Proceeds’ for drilling operations on these properties – the final step in the permitting process – was transferred by the Forest Service from the local Warren office to the Regional Headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a process unique to the ANF.
“The delays in drilling remain a deep concern to me. The direct and indirect jobs that drilling provides and the dollars injected into the local economy are critical, especially during a recession.
“I believe that in the meetings held over the past two days, my staff was able to establish a reasonable dialogue with many of the groups concerned over the issue, including the drillers themselves, the Forest Service, and others who are interested and active in this debate.
“I was particularly pleased by the meeting with the Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) and the Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club, where both organizations committed to an ongoing dialogue, and also expressed recognition of the private property rights involved, as well as support for those rights.
“I believe this dialogue is essential to bringing these controversies to a rapid conclusion. I want to assure the people of the communities surrounding the ANF, both those who enjoy privileged access to the forest and those with legally protected access rights, that I will work diligently to see that the ANF and local economies are given every chance to thrive and prosper.”
Note: Representative Thompson’s Chief of Staff, Jordan Clark, District Director, Peter Winkler, and District Representative, Joe Fadden, met with stakeholders at the Congressman’s direction Monday and Tuesday of this week to discuss energy production in the ANF.