Pennsylvania Governor wants to allow more gas development on public land

June 30, 2014

Last month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced that he would be issuing an executive order that would overturn a 2010 moratorium on oil and gas leasing on public land. As a follow up, an article on State Impact reports that the Corbett Administration is considering leasing as many as 25,000 acres of public park and forest land as a way of raising $75 million for the state budget.

This will allow companies to drill in a limited manner without having to cut down trees or move large amounts of soil. This is part of the state's goal of allowing economic development without increasing forest surface disruption. This category includes new roads, the expansion of an existing road, new wellpads or pipelines or a new compressor station. However, disruptions such as seismic testing, noise, light and air pollution are not considered surface disruptions by the DCNR.

According to the news source, companies will be allowed to extract gas underground, horizontally, from wells that are located on nearby private land. 

To raise funds, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) says that it wants at least $3,000 per acre in "upfront bonus payments." In addition, it is seeking an 18 percent royalty on gas production.

Corbett has a history of supporting natural gas development in his state, which is a major source of jobs and tax revenue. However, public pressure has forced him to consider the environmental impact of such actions. When dealing with projects that try to strike a balance between two competing interests, it is important to have environmental consultants on hand to help strike a path forward.