Thursday, January 14, 2010

Drilling Leases Generate More $ Than Expected

Pennsylvania land leased out for natural gas drilling has generated twice as much income as expected.
32-thousand acres of state forest land have been leased out for drilling, bringing in 128 million dollars.
That’s more than double the 60 million dollar goal – but all 128 million dollars won’t be going to Pennsylvania’s General fund. Instead, the excess money will stay in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund.
Department spokeswoman Chris Novak says that money will be used for conservation, recreation and flood control projects.

"So we’ve done projects along those lines in the past. It’s been used to purchase land from state parks. It’s been used to purchase mineral rights for areas of the public lands where we didn’t own them. Other conservation and certain infrastructure projects."

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman is open to the possibility of allocating more leasing money into the General Fund, but that would need to be accomplished through legislation.

"You know, if the revenues, which have been projected to be below what we estimated, continue to struggle for the rest of the fiscal year then there’s every possibility we may do that. At this point in time we’re just authorized for the sixty, but when we do next year’s budget if there’s a chance we’re short on revenue we may transfer more from that fund to the General Fund."

The state is facing a projected 450 million dollar revenue shortfall, and Rendell has authorized an additional 161 million dollars worth of budget cuts.

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