07 Feb Corbett Urged to Uphold Moratorium on State Forest Gas Leases
Pennsylvania’s 20 state forests are the focus of a number of outdoor groups as they fear budget concerns with the state may affect the state’s diminishing forested areas.
Advocates of organizations including Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, Pennsylvania Forest Coalition and United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania have written a letter to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, asking him to honor the moratorium then-Governor Ed Rendell placed on drilling operations within state forests in October of 2010.
Pennsylvania’s state forests currently encompass over 2.2 million acres of land, 700,000 acres of which are currently leased for oil and gas extraction by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The groups fear that the shrinking state budget will be a factor in considering whether to allow additional leasing of state forested lands.
The groups cite studies from the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, arguing that any additional land leased for the development of oil and gas could have a significant impact on the “wild character and ecological integrity of the state’s forest system.”
Although there has been no additional leasing of state forest land since the moratorium was imposed, current access to leased land is blocked to sportsmen as well sites are established for the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.
The letter was neither addressed nor answered by Gov. Corbett’s administration, but representatives from the governor’s office stated that the moratorium on new drilling continues to remain in effect.