Hate fracking? You’ll REALLY hate fracking near our state parks

Hate fracking? You’ll REALLY hate fracking near our state parks

Governor Corbett isn’t listening to Pennsylvanians. During his annual budget address last week, he announced plans to open our state forests and, for the first time, our state parks to fracking in order to fill a one-time budget gap. Corbett's plan would "lease new underground mineral rights near existing drilling sites or through adjacent properties," effectively overturning the moratorium on drilling on state parks and forests.* He devised his plan in spite of the fact that well over 60% of Pennsylvanians oppose drilling in state forests and parks, according to recent public opinion polls. " The plan will encourage drilling of state forest land already leased, but never drilled because the frackers couldn't drill horizontally into protected land.

If you agree that we cannot allow fracking in or near these special places, please sign my petition with Environmental Action and MoveOn.org to keep the existing moratorium on drilling in state forests and parks:
Roughly two-thirds, or nearly 1.5 million acres, of the land in Pennsylvania’s 20 state forests sit atop the Marcellus Shale. About half of those acres were leased to drillers in the early days of the fracking boom. The state leased over 380,000 acres. Another 290,000 acres not under the state’s control was snapped up by drillers.

The Rendell administration put a halt to issuing drilling permits on state forest land in October 2010 over concerns that fracking the remaining acres would “jeopardize fragile ecosystems”. The state’s Department of Natural Resources (DCNR) had issued a report earlier that year saying that the remaining acres were themselves sensitive areas or could only be accessed by cutting through sensitive areas.

By refusing to issue permits until environmental assessments were done by the DCNR that included “threatened and endangered species habitat; wildlife corridors; water resources; scenic viewsheds; public recreation areas; wetlands and floodplains; high-value trees and regeneration areas; avoiding steep slopes; pathways for invasive species; air quality; noise; and road placement and constructions methods”, the Rendell administration had put a de facto moratorium into effect.

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett pledged to reverse that policy if elected. It was a campaign promise he kept just weeks after taking office. His current plan takes the additional step of not just issuing permits in those sensitive areas, but leasing the acres the state controls. As mentioned earlier, he also wants to take the unprecedented step of leasing state park land.

It’s time to turn up the volume and make it impossible for the governor to continue to ignore the voices of the majority of Pennsylvanians. Environmental organizations across the state are planning to deliver thousands of petition signatures to Corbett’s office on February 25 after a noontime rally in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg. For more information and updates on our plans for that day, please visit our Facebook event page or Berks Gas Truth’s website. Please add your name to the petition above and we’ll deliver it on Feb. 25!

*Corbett budget proposal expands drilling in state parks and forests, Marie Cusick StateImpact Pennsylvania, February 4, 2014.