Pa. Governor Expands Gas Drilling in Parks
Pennsylvania’s just finished budget calls for raising almost $100 million by expanding leases for gas development in state forests — even though leases the state has already issued are far from tapped out.
The Cumberland Times-News reported that environmental groups complain that Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to open thousands more acres of state forest to gas development — and allow drilling in state parks for the first time — is poorly timed and ill advised.
“We don’t believe the forests and states parks should be used like an ATM,” said Cindy Dunn, a former deputy secretary for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who is now president of the environmental group PennFuture.
Dunn noted gas companies already hold private leases for state park land but have not tapped any yet. In western Pennsylvania, mineral rights have been recognized as valuable for more than a century. As a result, when the land establishing the state park system was acquired, the property and mineral rights had sometimes been separated before the sale.
Corbett’s executive order calling for non-surface impact leases — which allow drilling from neighboring property but don’t allow drilling pads, pipelines or other equipment to be installed — “sets a terrible precedent,” Dunn said.
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