Lawmakers ask for halt on drilling leases

    Pennsylvania lawmakers Wednesday called for a three-year moratorium on leasing state forest land for natural gas drilling.

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s new budget does not include any new leases to companies that want to drill in the state’s forest land, which environmental groups counted as a win. But some worry that Corbett may reverse Governor Ed Rendell’s executive order that currently suspends new leases. This bill is their legislative solution in case he does.

    Jeff Schmidt, head of the state’s Sierra Club, said the extra time is necessary to study the environmental impacts of the drilling that has already been permitted.

    “We need to see the cumulative impacts of those analyzed to determine whether or not we can have any additional leasing,” Schmidt said.

    Corbett said any decisions in the area will wait until he confirms a head of the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

    “In regard to the leasing of it, we didn’t propose anything yet, I want to get my DCNR person in there,” Corbett said.

    The governor said he does not have plans to have his Marcellus Shale Commission consider a moratorium.

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