Pennsylvania Orders Moratorium On Oil and Gas Leases In State Forests
Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has signed an executive order banning future oil and gas leasing of lands owned or managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Governor Rendell?s order does not affect existing leases on state forest land, but it does prohibit any further leasing of the 2.2 million acres of forest owned or managed by the DCNR. Since 2008, Pennsylvania has generated $4.5 million in royalties from leases on approximately 700,000 acres of state land overlying the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.
State-owned lands cover less than 10 percent of the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania, according to Terry Engelder, a Pennsylvania State University geologist. While there are only about 20 wells currently producing gas from the Marcellus formation on state property, that number could grow to as many as 12,000 wells over the next 20 years under existing leases, according to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
According to Governor Rendell, the order was in response the state Senate?s failure to act on House Bill 2235, which would have instituted a similar moratorium on leasing of state forest lands. Depending on the outcome of the upcoming election, the moratorium could be lifted as early as January. The Republican candidate for governor, Attorney General Tom Corbett, has indicated he is opposed to a moratorium, while his opponent, Democrat Dan Onorato, supports it.