Former Gov. Ed Rendell’s secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources is criticizing Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision to repeal a 4-month-old policy designed to minimize the environmental impact of Marcellus Shale natural gas well drilling in Pennsylvania’s parks.
The former DCNR secretary, John Quigley, rebuts assertions from Corbett spokesmen that the policy was ”unnecessary and redundant.”
“The policy wasn’t redundant. In fact, quite the opposite situation exists. There are gaping holes in the state’s ability and practice of considering well drilling applications on public park and forest lands,” Quigley told The Post-Gazette newspaper in Pittsburgh. “The policy was just a common-sense approach to mitigating or avoiding any environmental, recreational and aesthetic impacts from the well drilling.”
According to the paper, Pennsylvania has 117 state parks, 61 of them in the two-thirds of the state lying above the Marcellus Shale formation. The mineral rights under 85 percent of that park acreage are privately owned, and courts have ruled that the so-called “mineral estate” rights are superior to surface rights in Pennsylvania. The paper notes that the owners of underground mineral rights must be given reasonable access to develop those holdings, even when they lie under parks or other publicly owned land.
All of which is to say the next few years will be mighty interesting here in Pennsyltucky.
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