Friday, January 30, 2015

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf reinstates fracking ban on state parklands

Newly-elected Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, on Thursday reinstated a ban on fracking in state parklands, Ben Finely reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer. "The executive order protects about a million acres—or 60 percent—of Pennsylvania state parks and forests that sit atop the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation."

Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell "imposed the ban in 2010, and his Republican successor, Tom Corbett, lifted it last year," Finley writes. "Corbett had projected up to $95 million in revenue from leases that would have been signed." Throughout his campaign, Wolf said he would reinstate the ban, if elected. Wolf beat Corbett by a count of 54.93 percent to 45.07 percent.

The oil and gas industry was not happy with the move, Don Hopey reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Pennsylvania has 2.1 million acres of state forest and has issued oil and gas leases for about 700,000 acres—more than 130,000 acres of that for Marcellus Shale deep wells."

"The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has approved more than 1,000 Marcellus Shale gas wells on forest lands, and about 600 of those wells have been drilled on 230 wellpads," Hopey writes. "But there is room on existing leases for as many as 6,000. If all of those wells are drilled and developed, approximately 25,000 forested acres would be converted for roads, pipeline right of ways and wellpads."

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