Sierra Club aims to stop gas drillers’ use of public. land in Pa.

    The Sierra Club says Pennsylvania agencies leasing public park and forest land for natural gas drilling are not in compliance with federal conservation law.

    The national advocacy group and its Pennsylvania chapter have written an open letter to the National Park Service and the two state agencies responsible for approving natural gas drilling sites on land protected by the National Conservation Act.

    Jeff Schmidt, director of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club, says there’s already drilling taking place in state forests, and more is in store for park land.

    “We’re looking down the barrel of a gun pointed at our state parks that will basically remove significant portions of our state parks from public use if we don’t stop it,” he said.

    If the state is going to allow public land to be used for private purposes, he said it should buy additional public land or else require that some part of private profits go toward the park or forest’s maintenance.

    The Sierra Club is asking the National Park Service to investigate the state agencies and calling for a stop to all drilling on state park and forest land until the federal agency has approved drilling permits and land leases.

    The Sierra Club found 19 protected state parks within the Marcellus Shale drilling region. It says Pennsylvania has already started leasing 700-thousand acres of state forests for gas extraction.

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