PennFuture: Lifting of leasing moratorium removes protections on Pennsylvania's natural resources

True cost to our public lands still unknown

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 2014-2015 budget proposed today by Governor Tom Corbett factors in $75 million in drilling revenue to be accrued via the lifting of a moratorium on further leasing of state park and forest lands for gas development.


"This will place more and more of the budget burden on the backs of public lands," said Cindy Dunn, president and chief executive officer of PennFuture. "In announcing that he seeks to lift a three-year-old moratorium to expand leasing of public lands for gas development, the governor reveals the short-sighted nature of his stewardship of our natural resources by trading more long-term harm to our state parks and forests in return for short-term economic gain."

"We are increasingly concerned that absent a healthy economy and responsible drilling tax on natural gas development, Governor Corbett is making the general fund reliant on the rapid exploitation of resources that he should, instead, be conserving for this and future generations," continued Dunn.

Also of concern is the diversion of $117.5 million from the state's Oil and Gas Lease Fund (OGLF) as operational budget monies for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the largest replacement of general funds with oil and gas lease funds in the DCNR budget to date. The OGLF was originally designated for conservation, recreation and flood control programs in state parks and forests.

"The paradox of funding the state's flagship conservation agency with funds from non-renewable resources is inescapable," said Dunn.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in 1998 with offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. The organization's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization;" the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization "one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling;" and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across the state, called PennFuture "the commonwealth's main environmental advocate."

Contact: Elaine Labalme