Wolf restores ban on new gas drilling leases in Pa. parks, forests

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Governor Tom Wolf has signed an executive order to restore a ban on new gas and oil drilling leases in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.

Wolf signed the order reinstating the moratorium Thursday at Benjamin Rush State Park in northeast Philadelphia.

The new governor said natural gas development is vital to the state’s economy, but Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests should be preserved, protected, and used for recreational purposes.

“Our parks host 38 million visitors annually, support over 13,000 jobs, and provide $1.2 billion to the state’s economy,” Wolf said in a statement. “We should be looking for opportunities to grow our recreational and tourism economy through a revitalized parks and forest system that ensures we are preserving our natural resources and protecting our people and the environment.”

The order is effective immediately.

It reinstates the ban Governor Ed Rendell instituted in 2010 and replaces one signed by Governor Tom Corbett, who allowed the negotiation of new leases for gas extraction through horizontal wells drilled from adjacent, private lands or areas previously leased for drilling in state forests.

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