Press Coverage, Photos, Video: POW Speaks Up as Gov Rendell Signs Belated Ban on Further Forest Leasing
On Oct. 26th, Gov Rendell signed an executive order calling a halt to further leasing of PA state forests for gas drilling, while abdicating responsibility for the fate of the Delaware River, which he used as background scenery for his belated gesture.
Governor Rendell leased off 700,000 acres of forest to plug a hole in the budget created by his 2009 reversal on sev. tax:
1. Isaiah Thompson in Philadelphia’s City Paper, a must read: http://bit.ly/9zZ03q
2. AP photo: “no fracking” sign directly over Governor Rendell’s head: http://www.daylife.com/photo/0czP7if4ix6s4?q=Ed+Rendell
(In another photo below it, Protecting Our Waters member Alice Wells raises the sign, “HYDRO-FRACKING STEALS AND POLLUTES OUR WATER” visible behind our good ally Rep. Greg Vitali, who introduced and fought for HB2235, calling for a moratorium on further leasing in our state forests, long before the governor got behind it)
— Protecting Our Waters activist abe — [Mr. Alex Allen] sent it with the comment, “After he signs the order you can hear Iris and Liz challenging the governor”
WHAT HAPPENED / ANALYSIS:
We waited until after the executive order was signed to begin explicitly calling for a statewide moratorium on new permits, and a cumulative impact study in the Delaware River Basin prior to any rules being issued or any gas drilling-related projects permitted.
Governor Rendell seemed to try at first indicate that he is not responsible for how his PA Commissioner votes on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), the four-state entity which governs uses for and protection of the Delaware River watershed. This is absolutely not true; the Commissioner votes exactly as Rendell directs him to. So we called out, “GOV RENDELL, TELL YOUR BUDDY: CUMULATIVE IMPACT STUDY!”
Later the Governor claimed, in front of several reporters, that Pennsylvania’s vote doesn’t matter, in other words abdicating responsibility for Pennsylvania’s vote on fracking in the Delaware River Basin! However, the DRBC Secretary told me earlier this month that the draft rules on hyrdrofracking must be approved by each Commissioner in order to be released. If this is true, then all it takes is one “no” vote and the rules cannot be released, as we are asking, prior to a cumulative impact study.
Evidently we the people must instruct Governor Rendell: Pennyslvania’s vote on the Commission matters!! And we must demand that vote reflect the public interest: no rulemaking, and no permitting for any gas drilling-related projects, until a cumulative impact study has been done. Ten million people represented by Philadelphia and New York City Councils have demanded this, and ten thousand individuals have written to the DRBC already to say so.
4. Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the event and the forest issues, with AP photo including “NO FRACKING” sign: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/business/20101027_Rendell_bans_new_gas_leases_in_state_forests.html
6. Today’s news: Great work on the part of DCNR to further protect our forests:
Pennsylvania DCNR, DEP Establish Policy Further Protecting State Parks, Forests from Potential Gas Well Development
New Policy Bolsters DEP’s Existing Oversight during Permitting Review
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection today announced a new policy that establishes clear procedures for evaluating the impacts of oil and gas drilling on state park and forest land as part of DEP’s standard well-permitting process.
Because the commonwealth does not own the mineral rights to 80 percent of state park land and about 15 percent of state forest land, DCNR Secretary John Quigley said this joint policy will provide another measure of protection to Pennsylvania’s state-owned natural resources. Sixty state parks are located above the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.
“To manage development of oil and gas drilling where the commonwealth does not own the mineral rights, we needed a formal process in place to ensure that natural gas well operators properly coordinate with DCNR,” DEP Secretary John Hanger said. “This will help us determine the impacts of proposed oil and gas wells on state parks and forests before they submit their well permit applications to DEP.”
“Coordination is especially important on the areas of our state parks and forests where DCNR does not have the controls that would be put in place by a lease agreement,” Quigley said.
This new policy dovetails and support DEP’s existing practice of considering the impacts of proposed wells on public natural resources, including state parks and forests, as outlined in Section 205(c) of the Oil and Gas Act.
The policy, effective immediately, requires well operators to identify all areas of a tract that will be disturbed by development activities. DCNR will delineate, with assistance from the well operator, any areas of concern and recommend measures to minimize the impacts.
Impacts to be considered include: 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 construction methods.
After coordinating with DCNR, the well operator will submit the DCNR Environmental Review to DEP as part of a well permit application. An application that does not include sufficient information to allow DEP to consider the impacts on state park and forest lands will be considered incomplete.
DCNR will provide a letter if it is in agreement on recommended response measures. If there is no agreement, DEP may address the concerns with permit conditions.
Media contact: Christina Novak, DCNR; 717-772-9101
Editor’s Note: A copy of the policy is available at http://www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us/dsweb/Get/Document-81798/550-2116-001.pdf
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
7. Philadelphia Metro coverage:
Includes this excerpt: “Rendell asked both gubernatorial candidates to pledge not to overturn the executive order.
“Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said, ‘The state can generate income based on royalties from drilling on state lands. Once he gets elected, one of his first acts as governor would be to rescind that executive order.’
“Countered Onorato spokesman Brian Herman, ‘Dan supports the moratorium. He believes we should develop the industry and create jobs, and that there is enough privately-owned land to make that happen.’ ”
–Not all that encouraging on either count, but making it obvious that Corbett is an anti-environmental extremist.