Environmental advocates call for pause in natural gas leasing

    Pennsylvania environmental advocates used Earth Day to urge lawmakers to support a bill placing a five-year halt on leasing out state forest land for natural gas drilling.

    Pennsylvania environmental advocates used Earth Day to urge lawmakers to support a bill placing a five-year halt on leasing out state forest land for natural gas drilling.

    The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has leased about 700,000 acres of state forest land for natural gas drilling, and this year’s budget relies on more than $100 million of revenue from additional leasing.

    A bill before the House would put a pause on the leasing, so officials have the time to study its impact on state forests.

    Representative Dave Levdansky, an Allegheny County Democrat, says damage caused by drilling can’t be reversed.

    “The state forest is not an ATM machine,” says Levdansky. “It’s not a cash cow. It’s where we go to recreate. It’s an important part of Pennsylvania where the air is pure and the water is clean. God’s not making any more of that.”

    Levdansky says he’s not against drilling – he just doesn’t want to see it in protected woodlands.

    PennFuture and other environmental advocacy groups held an Earth Day rally at the Capitol to support the bill, which cleared the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week.

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