Corbett Overturns Rendell Regulations, First Step in Regulation Reductions?

By Nicole Houck, Contributing Writer

Governor Tom Corbett recently announced a repeal of an October 2010 policy requiring studies and review of environmental impact of drilling on state park land. The Corbett administration has also insinuated that this is the first step in overturning the Rendell executive order imposing a moratorium on gas leasing of state parks. It appears that the rescission of this executive order is the first step in serious reduction of Marcellus regulations.

John Quigley, the Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources during the Rendell administration, took to the blogs shortly after rescission was announced to express his frustrations for what he feels is “a common-sense DEP policy to protect state park and forest lands from unnecessary impacts of natural gas drilling.”

“The policy was expressly issued as guidance, without force of regulation. It was intended to protect the most sensitive areas of state park and forest land while allowing drilling to proceed,” wrote Quigley.

“We’re very disappointed that DEP does not believe that it is necessary to do an environmental review of potential impacts on public lands before drilling takes place. We actually think that these are lands that should be given a higher level of protection because they’re publicly owned lands. We disagree with DEP’s view that they should get less protection,” said Jeff Schmidt, director of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club Chapter.

“First of all, DEP claims that the policy they rescinded is redundant and there already is an environmental review. We don’t think that’s accurate so we hope that they will reconsider.”

“We do think, and statements by the governor’s office indicate, that this is the first step in moving towards overturning the Rendell executive order imposing a moratorium on gas leasing of state forest lands,” said Schmidt.

After the election in November, Corbett announced that he would indeed lift the moratorium in order to open state lands for drilling. This has prompted the threat of litigation against the Corbett administration if they overturn that executive order.

According to a report by the Patriot-News, attorney John Childe announced his intent to sue the Corbett administration on behalf of the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation in the event of a rescission of the moratorium.

Managing Editor Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.

March 7th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg | 1 Comment

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