Hellbender Digest 2013
In Depth: Allegheny Defense Project and Sierra Club Appeal Decision to Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to Protect the Allegheny National Forest
On November 3, 2012, Allegheny Defense Project and Sierra Club filed a notice that our organizations are appealing a decision by the U.S. District Court in Erie, PA that declared the U.S. Forest Service has no regulatory authority to protect the Allegheny National Forest from the impacts of private oil and gas development. Considering that 93% of the mineral rights underlying the Allegheny are privately owned, this decision will have profound impacts on land, air, and water resources, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities in the Allegheny, particularly in light of the unfolding shale gas boom. The District Court’s decision is deeply flawed because it ignored the very purpose for which national forests in the east were created in the first place – to restore and protect private lands that had been denuded by private industry – namely, the timber industry. Before diving into the District Court’s decision, however, it is necessary first to retrace how we got here in the first place.