Friday, April 23, 2010
Environmental advocates used Earth Day yesterday to urge lawmakers to support a bill placing a five-year halt on leasing out state forestland for natural gas drilling. I recent years the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has leased about 700-thousand acres of state forest land for natural gas drilling, and this year's budget relies on more than 100 million dollars of revenue from additional leasing. A bill before the House would put a pause on the leasing with a goal of studying the impact drilling has on state forests. Representative Dave Levdansky of Allegheny County says people need to understand that damage caused by drilling can't be reversed. He says, “The state forest is not an ATM machine. It's not a cash cow. It's where we go to recreate. It's an important part of Pennsylvania where the air is pure and the water is clean. God's not making any more of that.” Levdansky says he's not against drilling - he just doesn't want to see it in protected woodlands, “We've got a large, diverse state. And we're not saying don't drill in Pennsylvania. We're saying don't drill in our most pristine - our most environmentally and ecologically sensitive lands.” PennFuture and other environmental advocacy groups held an Earth Day rally at the Capitol to support the bill, which cleared the House appropriations Committee earlier this week.