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Friday, July 4, 2014

Other's opinions... Governor's Position on New Gas Leasing Just More Tom-foolery

Other's opinions...
Governor's Position on New Gas Leasing
Just More Tom-foolery
Governor Corbett's most recent budget proposal includes revenues to be derived from leasing additional gas on State Park and State Forest lands. We know from recent depositions taken from senior DNCR professionals that Corbett's proposal for new gas leasing did not originate from the Department.  The only thing that prevented  Corbett from moving forward was  Governor Rendell's moratorium preventing additional gas leases on our public lands.
So what did the Corbett administration do?  On a Friday afternoon beginning the Memorial Day holiday, they quietly rescinded the Rendell moratorium and announced a new executive order that will allow new leasing provided that no surface disturbances would occur.
Specifically, Corbett's Executive Order says no State Park or State Forest land may be leased for natural gas development which would result in additional surface disturbance on state park or state forest lands. On its face,  the order is direct and strongly worded.  There will be no leases where any additional surface disturbance would result. And this applies to new leases affecting any State Park or State Forest land.
So what is the big deal?  Upon closer examination, we see that DCNR's official explanation of the executive order attempts rewrite the order by redefining "no additional surface disturbance" to be "no additional long-term disturbance." Further, the Department goes on to further restrict what qualifies as a long-term disturbance as only affecting the conversion of the forest to a non-forest use. And this is probably just the beginning.  Corbett's budget proposal needs more revenue from new leasing, and you can bet that the Governor's Office is calling the shots about how to interpret the executive order which has already been substantially weakened by this Tom-foolery.
And that's the big deal. With the election on the horizon, the Governor wants us to believe that he is working to protect our Parks and Forests while Corbett's top people are quietly providing guidance to implement his executive order by creating loopholes large enough for the industry to drive a drilling rig through.
Rick Carlson       Mr. Carlson is the former DCNR Policy Director under Governors Ridge and Rendell
http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2014/07/corbett_park_forest_leasing_pl.html#comments

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