Conservation Department Says no State Forest Lands are Left for Gas Leasing

The Times Tribune
BY LAURA LEGERE (STAFF WRITER)

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There are no unleased acres left in Pennsylvania’s state forests where Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling sites, pipelines and access roads could be built without damaging environmentally sensitive areas, according to a new analysis by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Nearly 139,000 acres of state forest have been leased for gas drilling since 2008 and money from those lucrative leases – a total of $354 million – has been used to help balance the last two state budgets.

But DCNR Secretary John Quigley said the era of leasing large parcels of state forests for gas drilling is over.

“We may do some little stuff here and there,” he said, “but in terms of large-scale leasing, we’re done.”

The department’s findings, demonstrated in a series of overlain maps on DCNR’s website, show the forests in northcentral Pennsylvania above the gas-rich Marcellus Shale crowded by leased land, parcels where the state does not own the mineral rights and places where development must be restricted.

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