A group of Democratic State Senators is trying to head off an end to the moratorium on new drilling permits in state forest land. This comes after Governor Tom Corbett last week repealed a 4 month old policy instituted by the Rendell Administration aimed at limiting any environmental damage caused by Marcellus Shale gas drilling in state parks.
Michael Krancer, acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, called the Rendell policy regarding state parks "unnecessary." He said the DEP would continue to review all comments from interested parties concerning drilling on state lands. The state owns the "surface rights" to the state parks but mineral rights are privately owned and court rulings have indicated that the mineral rights owners must be given reasonable access.
Governor Corbett indicated earlier that he also intends to end the moratorium, issued in October by then Governor Rendell,on awarding new leases for drilling in state forests. The state, which owns nearly 85% of the mineral rights in its forests, has leased about a third of the 2.1 million acres of forests for drilling.
State Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny County) is co-sponsoring legislation that would enact a 3 year moratorium on additional drilling leases in the state forests...."We have to be concerned about the environment. We have to be concerned about our green spaces. We have to be concerned about our water, our water supply, our watersheds."
Fontana says they also have to think about the people..."We have residents of this state that are campers, that are hunters, that are fishermen that don't want to go out and pitch a tent and look out of their tent and see drilling rigs."
The legislation faces an uphill climb in the General Assembly and could quite likely be vetoed by Governor Corbett.