Gov. Corbett has made good on his promise to reverse one of Ed Rendell's last acts as governor: he has rescinded an effective moratorium on natural gas drilling on state lands.
The Pittsburgh Business Times reports today that the Rendell document called "Policy for the Evaluation of Impacts of Oil and Gas Development on State Parks and State Forests" has been rescinded and erased from the Department of Environmental Protection website.
The four-month-old policy required environmental impact assessments be conducted by the Department of Conservation and National Resources before a driller could apply for a permit with the DEP.
At the time, the Rendell administration issued the policy it said it did so 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 the joint policy would provide another measure of protection to Pennsylvania's state-owned natural resources. Sixty state parks are located above the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation
The level of the review process, in which the agency would consider endangered species, water sources, viewsheds and steep slopes, was so extensive it effectively halted new drilling activity.
In its rescision, published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday, the DEP explained its action this way:
"This document, which was not subject to advanced public comment or review, is being rescinded as unnecessary and redundant of existing practice. The Department is implementing Section 205(c) and will continue to do so. The Department will continue to consider the input of all applicable parties with respect to public resources outlined in Section 205(c).".Section 205(c) deals with well location restrictions.