Judge Upholds Forest Service Protection of Water in Allegheny National Forest

Erie federal judge rejects oil and gas industry motion

A Forest Service ban that keeps Marcellus shale drillers from using surface or groundwater from the Allegheny National Forest stands after a federal judge refused to overturn it.

In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin said a long-running, three-sided dispute involving the oil and gas industry, the federal agency and environmental groups has not addressed water rights.

Specifically, the judge said his 2009 preliminary injunction ordering the Forest Service to resume processing drilling proposals in the forest and an earlier 1980 federal court decision confirmed only that, under Pennsylvania law, the federal government and other surface property owners can`t block mineral owners` access to the minerals. The decisions don`t address water rights.

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