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Bill would prevent leasing in state forests


March 13, 2013

HARRISBURG, PA — Representative Greg Vitali, the minority chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, on March 8 introduced a law that would permanently ban the leasing of additional state forest land for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

“Pennsylvania has already made about half of its state forestland available for drilling,” said Vitali. “The remaining 800,000 acres have old growth forests, fragile ecosystems, and habitats for rare and endangered species. We need to protect this land for future generations.”

Former Governor Ed Rendell leased more than 700,000 acres of state forest land for drilling during his administration and signed an executive order in 2010 before the gubernatorial election that year to put a moratorium on additional leasing.

Vitali said this legislation is needed because the moratorium could be undone with a stroke of Governor Tom Corbett’s pen. During Senate and House budget hearings over the last two weeks, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said the moratorium on additional leasing remains in place for state forest lands, and there are no plans and there have been no discussions with Corbett about lifting the moratorium.