State House Passes Bill to Temporarily Halt Leasing State Forests for Gas Drilling

The Pennsylvania state house just passed a bill that temporarily halts new leases of state forests for natural gas drilling. Supporters of the bill hope the thee-year moratorium will be enough time to study the environmental effects of Marcellus Shale drilling. The Allegheny Front's Estelle Tran has more.

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OPEN:The Pennsylvania state house just passed a bill that temporarily halts new leases of state forests for natural gas drilling. Supporters of the bill hope the thee-year moratorium will be enough time to study the environmental effects of Marcellus Shale drilling. The Allegheny Front's Estelle Tran has more.

TRAN:The bill is called the State Forest Natural Gas Lease Moratorium Act. It also requires the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to produce a yearly report on the environmental impact of Marcellus Shale gas production and a separate report that spells out the economic effects of this type of deep drilling. The bill passed the house by a vote of 157 to 33 after an amendment reduced the moratorium from five years to three years, but Jan Jarrett, president of the environmental group PennFuture, worries the bill won't pass the Senate.

JARRETT: Are they going to take this common sense precaution? So it's an extremely important time and an extremely important test of those Senators' commitment to sound management of our forest resources.

TRAN: Most of Pennsylvania's two million acres of publicly owned forest land lies atop the Marcellus Shale formation, and about 700,000 acres of that land are now open for gas drilling. Jarrett says that natural gas production in the next three years won't be affected by a moratorium because companies will still be drilling on forest land that's already leased.

For The Allegheny Front, I'm Estelle Tran