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Corbett asks for, receives resignation of DCNR chief - abc27 WHTM

Corbett asks for, receives resignation of DCNR chief

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Richard J. Allen Richard J. Allen
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Gov. Tom Corbett forced one of his top officials to resign. Camp Hill's Richard J. Allan, the secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, tendered his resignation today.

An official statement from Corbett did not give a reason. His spokesman, Kevin Harley said the request for Allan's resignation was not a public policy issue. 

However, 13 environmental organizations sent a letter earlier this week complaining about a lack of transparency regarding potential gas drilling in a state forest. Sierra Club Director Jeff Schmidt said he believed this is the reason for Allan's departure.

Schmidt called this a good day and said Allan was to blame for a lack of transparency in his department.

The Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club and 12 additional organizations signed a letter sent to Corbett on Monday complaining that the department held only one public meeting on potential natural gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest in Lycoming County.

Allan, 59, had served as a member of Corbett's cabinet since March 2011. He is the fifth cabinet secretary to depart in the last eight months (Health, Welfare, Education, Department of Environmental Protection).

The letter sent to Corbett did not call for Allan's resignation but asked the department to make public the proposed development plan, open a formal public comment period and hold six public hearings.

They said DCNR held only one public meeting -- at 4 p.m. on a weekday -- on the issue and did not intent to hold another.  The letter also complained that no public record was made of the meeting and public comment was limited.

"Because these are public lands belonging to all citizens of the Commonwealth, that decision requires a transparent public process," the organizations said in a press release.

Director Jeff Schmidt said Sierra Club members want the DCNR to stop backroom negotiations with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, which currently owns the underground gas on half of a portion of the state forest known as the Clarence Moore lands.

"They want to know the details of what is proposed, and they expect DCNR to allow the public ample time to comment," Schmidt said.

"If anything, DCNR should be meeting with and holding discussions with the owners of these lands –the people of Pennsylvania – not meeting with a private corporation while excluding the public," the letter stated.

Ellen Ferretti, deputy secretary for Parks and Forestry, will serve as acting secretary effective immediately, according to the news release.

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