Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rep. Vitali Appeals DCNR Denial Of Right To Know Request On Drilling Plan

Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Minority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Tuesday appealed the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' denial of his Right-to-Know request seeking information about Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to raise $75 million through the additional leasing of state parks and forests for natural gas drilling.
"It's unfortunate we have to go to these lengths for information that should be readily available," said Rep. Vitali "The legislature needs to know which parks and forests are under consideration for drilling, how many acres will be leased, which companies will be doing the drilling and how the $75 million figure was calculated."
The appeal was filed with the Office of Open Records, which has 30 days after it receives the appeal to make a final determination.
In addition, Rep. Vitali last week filed two new Right-to-Know requests seeking information about the plan with the Office of the Budget and the Governor’s Office.
In its denial of the initial Right-to-Know request, DCNR directed Rep. Vitali to the Office of the Budget. Rep. Vitali said he also filed a Right-to-Know request with the Governor’s Office because the Governor’s Energy Executive Patrick Henderson is a likely possessor of the information.
In his budget address on February 4, Corbett proposed raising an additional $75 million from "non-surface impact” drilling.  Rep. Vitali is opposed to this proposal because drilling is a highly industrial activity, and an expansion will have negative impact on state parks and forests.
Rep. Vitali said a severance tax on gas drilling is a better way to raise revenue.
DCNR acknowledged the negative impacts of drilling in its Shale Gas Monitoring report, released last week, that states: "Natural gas development ... affects a variety of forest resources and values, such as recreational opportunities, the forest’s wild character, scenic beauty, and plant and wildlife habitat.”

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