Friday, September 30, 2011

Drilling In State Parks Would Be A Disaster For Everyone

More than 7900 Marcellus drilling permits have been issued. Private land owners have leased huge quantities of their land and eagerly wait in most cases for drilling and royalty checks to start. 

More than 700,000 acres of 2.2 million acres of the state forest has been leased over decades for gas drilling.  The Pennsylvania Game Commission has leased state game lands. The Fish and Boat Commission is considering doing so.

But a redline for an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians is the state park system.  Drilling there will destroy the essence of a state park and, make no mistake about it, drilling there will trigger a public relations and political disaster for the companies involved and the gas industry itself.

The blowout and blowback would be huge.  Polling shows in fact that 77% oppose further drilling in the state forests where drilling has taken place for more than 50 years.  Probably 85% of the public will oppose drilling in state parks.

PennFuture has launched a campaign to stop drilling in Pennsylvania state parks. For details go to on the home page and see

The campaign features a pledge placed before the gas industry to not drill in state parks or take gas from state parks and legislative changes that would include a major impact fee for drilling in state parks that presumably would lessen the profit from doing so.

Gas companies should stay on land where they are wanted.  Private landowners want in many cases drilling.  The people of Pennsylvania own the state parks, and they don't want state parks drilled.  Drilling in state parks would be a disaster for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. John,

    Couldn't agree with you more, which is why MDS Energy and Knapp Acquisitions & Production made this very pledge to the DCNR in a meeting in early May of this year, and specifically agreed to not develop gas rights we control on 155 acres of Yellow Creek State Park property. We further agreed to drill a well outside of the park and include that 155 acres as part of a unit so that our lease will not expire and no other company can come in and develop it.

    Yellow Creek, one of the most beautiful parks in PA, happens to own its gas rights on all but two parcels, the one we have under lease and one other small tract that I highly doubt will ever be developed. As such, our commitment should leave Yellow Creek State Park impervious to natural gas encroachment.

    Kudos to PennFuture for this campaign. They also recommended a reasonable 300 foot buffer zone around parks not be developed and special regulations and public hearings for sites in close proximity. We wholeheartedly support these measures as well.

    Indiana County, where Yellow Creek resides, already has a 500' no drill zone around their state and county parks, and an ordinance which puts extra restrictions on drillers in zones (called "Conservation Zones") around the parks that in most places extend over a mile in distance from the parks. These regulations have been in place since 1973. We recently applied to drill in this conservation zone and worked with local residents, environmental organizations, and local government to add extra safety precautions and received our permit several weeks ago.

    So congrats to Indiana County for having the forethought of tackling this issue nearly 40 years ago, and to PennFuture for seeing a good model that works and not being afraid to run with it.

    Mike Knapp