Court upholds gas drilling leases on Pa. public land

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A state court is upholding the leasing of public lands for gas and oil drilling.

The Commonwealth Court on Wednesday rejected a 2012 lawsuit by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation seeking to stop drilling in state parks and forests and diverting money away from a conservation fund.

The court says the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has exclusive authority over leasing decisions and that the Legislature has the authority to shift tens of millions of dollars in rent and royalties into other state programs.

Patrick Henderson, an energy adviser to Gov. Tom Corbett, says that as a practical matter the conservation department acts on the governor’s behalf. He called the ruling a resournding win for the state government.

A spokesman for the foundation said he was reviewing the decision.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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