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DCNR Releases Shale-Gas Monitoring Report

This week the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) released a report that gives “a snapshot” of the agency’s monitoring of shale-gas drilling activities and their impacts on economics and state forests in regard to water and air quality, recreation, plants and wildlife, soil, and other areas.

Private natural gas and oil wells in state forests pumped $582 million into Pennsylvania budgets in five years, more than tripling the combined revenue of the prior 60 years, DCNR reported.

Royalty and lease payments for 2008 through 2012 came largely from 191 new drilling pads that tap into Marcellus and other shale gas reserves, according to the first Shale-Gas Monitoring Report from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The revenue matches Gov. Tom Corbett’s hopes for natural gas development on public lands, said his energy executive, Patrick Henderson. He said Corbett projects about $120 million in ongoing royalties for the 2014-15 budget year and wants to raise $75 million more through new forest leases that would not be permitted to disrupt additional public surface area.

The report comes weeks before the General Assembly begins serious talked on budget must-haves and ways to generate new revenue. During Governor Corbett’s budget address in February, he proposed expanding drilling in and beneath state parks and forests. On option, that his administration feels could generate up to $75 million in new revenue. During her testimony before House and Senate Committees, DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti was careful to note that the proposal is limited to no new or additional surface disturbance on state lands.

The report is “a first iteration of our measurements and is intended to represent a snapshot in time. Future reports are anticipated as more data are collected and analyzed and more trends are observed. Monitoring is a long-term effort and one that the department is committed to continue,” DCNR Deputy Secretary of Parks and Forestry Dan Devlin wrote in the preface to the report. Click here to review the full reports.