Barletta Backs PA Energy Dominance
WASHINGTON – Today Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) voted for legislation led by Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-5) that would protect long established private property rights to underground minerals, including oil and natural gas, in the Allegheny National Forest. Roughly 478,283 acres of this 517,000 acre subsurface mineral estate in Northwestern Pennsylvania are privately owned. The bill, H.R. 2316, the Cooperative Management of Mineral Rights Act of 2017, passed the House and now heads to the Senate.
“I believe that Pennsylvania can once again be a national, if not global leader, in energy production,” said Rep. Barletta. “However, this ‘Keep it in the Ground’ mentality hurts the hard working men and women of Pennsylvania by preventing this energy revolution. Reasonable regulation does not mean the power to ban all mineral development. By protecting private property rights, Pennsylvanians will have greater opportunities to develop these resources and provide good paying jobs. I commend my friend GT for introducing this great bill.”
Since the 1923 designation of the Allegheny National Forest, private mineral owners have worked cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service to develop subsurface mineral resources, including oil and natural gas. For nearly a century, property owners routinely provided a 60-day notification of drilling plans, and the Forest Service issued a “Notice to Proceed.” However, in 2007, the Forest Service significantly changed this policy by designating the “Notice to Proceed” as a major federal action, thereby requiring extensive and costly environmental analysis. This departure from decades of practice shut down oil and gas development in the region and caused irreparable economic damage. The industry sued, claiming that the Forest Service lacked the authority to ban development of the private mineral estate. In 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania agreed, and overturned the moratorium on oil and gas development in the national forest. This decision was confirmed on appeal in 2013. H.R. 2316 reaffirms the court’s findings that the Forest Service does not have the legal authority to shut down energy production in the Allegheny National Forest, protecting against future infringement on private property rights.
Rep. Barletta has repeatedly signaled domestic energy development as a top priority for America’s prosperity and bringing high paying jobs back to Pennsylvania. Last Thursday, September 28, Barletta brought U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry to Jeddo Coal Company in Ebervale to see an active anthracite mining operation, as well as tour a reclamation site and a new pilot program to extract Rare Earth Elements from coal waste.
“Sec. Perry saw for himself the abundance of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania,” Barletta said after the meeting. “I was honored to have Sec. Perry in Pennsylvania to see what we can accomplish. Hard working Pennsylvanians are ready to power the future of America. Get out of our way and we will succeed.”