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Monday, January 27, 2014

Quoted by StateImpactPA on monitoring impacts of natgas development on PA's state forest

I’m quoted in this StateImpactPA article about the program that monitors the impacts of natural gas development on Pennsylvania’s state forest. (Audio is here.)

A little background. When I was Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) during the last two years of the administration of Governor Ed Rendell, I was ordered by the General Assembly to lease state forest land for gas exploration to help balance the state budget. I voiced concern about it at my professional peril, and worked with the women and men of the agency to minimize the impact of the mandated leasing, and to understand its potential impacts. I also worked with my former colleague John Hanger, then-DEP Secretary, to enact (for a time) additional protections for state forest and park land that would be drilled. I ordered the development of best management practices for gas development on state forest lands – a process that resulted in an excellent document that was issued after I left the agency. John Hanger and I wrote and helped convince my boss Governor Rendell to sign a moratorium on further state forest leasing. (More background on that here.)

I also ordered the development of the subject of the StateImpactPA report - a permanent, comprehensive, and transparent DCNR monitoring program that would enable - over time - a full understanding of all of the unfolding impacts of natural gas development on state forest lands. During my limited time as Secretary, the framework of the program was developed, its resource needs were identified, and staffing levels were approved. The challenges of implementation were taken up by the Corbett Administration.

The monitoring program is of central importance to the future of Pennsylvania’s public lands, to our state’s economy, to our quality of life, and - as the state Supreme Court has recently ruled - to the rights of all Pennsylvanians.

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