Thursday, January 29, 2015

PEC Applauds Gov. Wolf On Signing State Lands Leasing Moratorium

The PA Environmental Council Thursday applauded Gov. Wolf on re-establishing a moratorium on leasing of State Forest and Park lands for natural gas development.
“PEC commends Gov. Wolf for reasserting a key safeguard for our public lands so early in his administration,” said Davitt Woodwell, President and CEO.
Reinstatement of the moratorium was identified as one of PEC’s top policy priorities for 2015. Leasing of state forestland for unconventional natural gas drilling in 2008 and 2010 was driven by the desire for revenue to balance the state budget. In 2014, the General Assembly again called for additional leasing revenues without regard to the consequences to some of Pennsylvania’s most important ecological and recreation lands.
“Management of these public lands should be driven first and foremost by conservation principles, not revenue,” said Woodwell. “The Public Trust doctrine embodied in the Environmental Rights Amendment of the state constitution establishes a stringent and mandatory threshold for the government in deciding if and when resource development should proceed.”
Last year the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) completed a first step in reporting on impacts of unconventional development leasing; work that is still being informed and improved by ongoing analysis from public and private partners.
“DCNR needs to continue its evaluation of ongoing activity, and use that knowledge to improve and enforce leading practices placed on the industry for development already underway,” said Woodwell. “There remain opportunities to reduce overall impacts even if leases are already signed.”

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