In an excellent article by Don Gilliland in today's The Patriot-News (http://www.pennlive.com/), Senator Mary Jo White, the Chair of the Senate's Energy and Environmental Resources Committee, supported Governor Corbett's plan to look at state land where prisons are located for possible drilling, but she also voiced caution about further drilling in the state forests. This is a notable development.
Senator White noted that the state forests have a valuable sustainable forestry designation that is important to the Pennsylvania forest industry, and she correctly noted that the designation could be lost with much more drilling.
She is quoted in the piece as saying: "The state forest is, after all, the state forest. It isn't the state oil field."
Approximately 700,000 acres of state forest out of a total of 2.2 million have been leased over decades for oil and gas drilling.
A bill imposing a 3-year moratorium on further drilling in the state forests passed the House of Representative in April 2010 by an overwhelming vote of 150 to 50 but did not come to a vote in the state senate by October 2010 when the Senate initially adjourned.
Governor Rendell at that point issued an executive order imposing a moratorium on further drilling in the state forests after the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources concluded that more drilling would impact the sustainable forest designation of the state forests and ecologically sensitive areas.
Legislation has been introduced in this General Assembly to impose a moratorium on further drilling in the state forests.
I applaud Senator White's caution about further drilling in the state forests.