New Drilling in PA State Forests Back On with New Governor

The drilling moratorium on Marcellus drilling in Pennsylvania state forests has been lifted by new Gov. Tom Corbett:

In one of the first promised reversals of former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s Marcellus Shale policy, the Corbett administration has rescinded a policy in effect for the past four months that effectively put a moratorium on new leasing for natural gas drilling in state forests.

When it went into effect in October, the policy required any operators who wanted to drill on public land to get an assessment of environmental impacts from the Department of Conservation and National Resources before applying for a permit with the Department of Environmental Protection [DEP].*

The PA DEP had this comment on the rule change:

“This document [that created the moratorium], which was not subject to advanced public comment or review, is being rescinded as unnecessary and redundant of existing practice. The Department is implementing Section 205(c) and will continue to do so. The Department will continue to consider the input of all applicable parties with respect to public resources outlined in Section 205(c).”*

Section 205(c) deals with well location restrictions. The DEP’s argument is that the rule set in place by Rendell added an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that in essence shut down all drilling in state forests, and that the DEP can sufficiently protect wild habitats with existing rules.

*Pittsburgh Business Times (Feb 21) – Corbett lifts ban on Marcellus Shale drilling in state forests