PA governor rescinds ban on Marcellus Shale drilling in state forests
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has lifted a policy imposed by his predecessor, Ed Rendell, placing an virtual moratorium on new leasing for natural gas drilling in state forests.
The policy, which into effect in October 2010, required any operators who wanted to drill on public lands to obtain an assessment of environmental impacts from the state Department of Conservation and National Resources (DCNR) before applying for a permit with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DCNR would consider: “threatened and endangered species habitat; wildlife corridors; water resources; scenic viewsheds; public recreation areas; wetlands and floodplains; high-value trees and regeneration areas; avoiding steep slopes; pathways for invasive species; air quality; noise; and road placement and construction methods.” Because an earlier DCNR study had concluded that leasing could not occur without damaging the ecological integrity and wild nature of the state forest system, the ruling was effectively a moratorium on new drilling on state land.
The new decision removes the DCNR from the equation. A DEP spokesman said “This [previous ruling], which was not subject to advanced public comment or review, is being rescinded as unnecessary and redundant of existing practice.”