Proposed Drilling Under PA State Forests Could Bring In $60 Billion in Revenue

On Wednesday, August 17, 2011 0 comments

The head of Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development has said if Pennsylvania allows new Marcellus Shale gas well drilling throughout Pennsylvania's publicly owned forests, state government could receive revenues of $60 billion in the next 30 years and solve all of its economic problems.

Alan Walker, secretary of the DCED, made the remarks last week during an interview for Capitolcast. The remarks were reported by Capitolwire yesterday.

According to the article, Mr. Walker acknowledged that getting $60 billion in revenue would require leasing drilling rights under most of the state's forests, but he said he wasn't concerned about any environmental impacts.

Mr. Walker is quoted in the article as saying, "The way the drilling platforms are being set up today -- where you may only have to have one pad every so many square miles -- it's a minimum impact on the state forest property, and in a matter of a couple of years, it's going to be revegetated."

Environmental organizations and some Democratic state legislators condemned the idea. Paul King, president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, a mainstream statewide environmental organization, said in a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett that the proliferation of shale drilling rigs, pipelines and compressor stations "would be devastating to our state forests" and the impacts would last for generations.

"To use our state forests as an expedient means to generate new revenues, when there are a multitude of options including but not limited to a severance tax, is wholly inappropriate," Mr. King wrote, noting that the forests are already big economic assets for their timber production, tourism and recreation. "These lands belong to the people of Pennsylvania."

In response to reporters' questions, Kevin Harley, the governor's spokesman, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying Mr. Walker's remarks reflected his position and opinion.

"[Secretary Walker] was speaking as someone who is in charge of economic development," Mr. Harley said. "He wasn't speaking on behalf of the governor." He added that Mr. Corbett would take into consideration both economic and environmental factors before moving forward on any future lease sale, but no additional leasing of forest land is in the works.

Read entire article in Pittsburgh Post Gazette.


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