Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Penn Shale in Trouble?

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ed Rendell on Tuesday is expected to call for a moratorium on further leasing of state forest land for natural gas drilling.
That news today came on the heels of reports that Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett, who has publicly opposed a tax on natural gas extraction, continues to rake in campaign cash from natural gas companies.
Marcellusmoney.org, a list being compiled by Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania and Common Cause/Pennsylvania, said today that Mr. Corbett had received $856,220 from the gas drilling industry during the past 10 years, up from the $700,000 reported a few weeks ago and the $373,000 reported in June.
Most of the contributions have come in the past two years. The latest tracking report covers the period of Sept. 14 to Oct. 18.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato has received significantly less in the last decade, $124,300.
"In the last weeks before the election, drilling industry CEOs went all out for Tom Corbett because he thinks that ordinary Pennsylvanians should pay to clean up the messes that their drills leave behind," said Josh McNeil of Conservation Voters.
Mr. Corbett said the natural gas industry is just in the beginning stages in this state and he doesn't want to impose a tax that could send thousands of jobs elsewhere.
Mr. Rendell will hold a news conference Tuesday in Philadelphia, where he will "sign an executive order instituting a strategic moratorium on future drilling operations in the state," according to his office.
Such a moratorium, however, wouldn't affect drilling planned on the 700,000 acres of state forest land in areas of Marcellus Shale that has already been leased to private companies. Only 25 wells are now producing gas on that land but eventually 400 more wells could be located there.
Mr. Rendell will leave office in January, however, and whether such a moratorium would continue would be up to either Mr. Corbett or Mr. Onorato.
Mr. Rendell also is expected to continue his criticism of Senate Republicans for what he sees as their "unwillingness to enact a severance tax on the natural gas industry."

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