Forests agency adds public step to drilling plan

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania state lawmaker says it's an important victory that parks and forests officials will accept public comments on the terms of agreement to allow two natural gas exploration companies to drill in Loyalsock State Forest.

Still, Rep. Rick Mirabito told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette on Wednesday (http://bit.ly/1u4hqt8 ) that he wished the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources had agreed to accept comments for 30 days, rather than just 15.

Agency officials say there's no deadline to come to terms.

They say the state doesn't own the subsurface rights on a 25,000-acre tract known as the Clarence Moore lands and cannot prevent Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum and Southwest Energy from drilling there. But officials say they hope to minimize the environmental damage.

Drilling opponents argue that the state has more power than it says to prevent the drilling.

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Information from: Williamsport Sun-Gazette, http://www.sungazette.com