Thompson Comments for the Record on ANF Settlement

Aug 20, 2009 Issues: Agriculture, Allegheny National Forest

Washington, D.C.—“I have deep concerns that the actions taken by the Forest Service in response to litigation filed by Allegheny Defense Project (ADP), the Sierra Club, and the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE) will have far reaching and intentional repercussions.  This is a fundamental issue of private property rights and domestic energy production,”  wrote U.S. Representative Glenn `GT’ Thompson, R-Howard.

His words are in a letter sent today to the District Ranger of the Allegheny National Forest.  The letter serves as his comment on the supplemental environmental impact statement to the amendment of the Forest Service’s 5-year plan as a result of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) litigation settlement. The comment period ends tomorrow.

Thompson details the rigorous process already in effect under Pennsylvania law before energy production can take place in the ANF.  And he questions the need to apply studies under NEPA as another step.  “In my view, the comment period (under NEPA) has the potential to provide for frivolous lawsuits, unnecessary delays, and redundant environmental reviews, superseding historical context of the leasing process in the ANF,” wrote Thompson.  “This is exactly the reason why the litigants have attempted to force this law upon private oil and gas production in the ANF.”

He continues, “Most of the wells in the Allegheny National Forest are shallow, meaning that they are highly productive at first, but taper off over a year or two.  This suggests that producers must have a steady flow of new permits, otherwise they will not be able to continue to earn a sustainable profit.  The real result of applying NEPA—to which litigants are aware—is that without supply  (of steady permitting) these producers will go out of business.”

Thompson also explained his concerns over the process used by the Forest Service in regard to this litigation and the abrupt halt to leasing.  “It has become very apparent to me and many of my colleagues in the House of Representatives that there is an unwarranted policy change occurring within the Forest Service.  Some within the agency appear to be far more focused upon forest preservation and mitigating global warming, rather than the real function of the Forest Service: forest management.”