Pa. Gov. Faces Fight on Drilling in State Parks

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May 29, 2014 by   Comments Off on Pa. Gov. Faces Fight on Drilling in State Parks

A former secretary and deputy secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) testified in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on Wednesday (May 28) that more state natural lands should not be opened for gas extraction without further study of the impacts of the drilling already underway.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that James Grace, former deputy secretary for parks and forests, and John Quigley, former secretary of DCNR, both in the Rendell administration, spoke as witnesses for an environmental group that wants a judge to grant an injunction to prevent the state from using money from past and future gas leases on state park and forest lands to help balance the upcoming budget.

Gov. Tom Corbett plans to raise $75 million in the next fiscal year by leasing an undetermined number of acres under state parks and forests for gas extraction. His budget proposal also calls for using $117 million in oil and gas royalties from existing wells to fund DCNR’s operations.

The two men testified that past leases set a “disturbing” precedent and implied that future leases would only compound the potential harm. They said DCNR was directed to issue leases in 2009 and 2010, despite the agency’s clear recommendation against it.

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