News Feature | August 14, 2014

Fracking Limited In Pennsylvania Due To Environmental Group

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

riginpareg

Pennsylvania officials have reached an agreement with environmental groups to temporarily rein in the expansion of fracking in the state. 

"The Corbett administration will not sign any new natural gas leases under state parks and forests until at least this fall, under a legal agreement with an environmental group that was announced [in July]," Power Source reported

That's a costly deal for the Corbett administration: "State officials had planned to raise $95 million in revenue from new leases of state-owned land," Philadelphia Magazine reported. 

What does the state get out of the deal?

In return, "the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation has agreed to drop its request for the court to prevent the state from using revenues from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to pay for general operations at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources," Penn Live reported

The deal, in a nutshell, per Philadelphia Magazine: "Environmentalists are concerned that the state funds environmental protection efforts using money from environmentally destructive practices — but are willing to let it go, for now, since Corbett is halting the leases of public lands for drilling." 

This is just a partial settlement in a larger court battle over the issue of fracking set at the Commonwealth Court, one of the state's highest benches. Oral arguments are set for October.   

Fracking is big business in Pennsylvania. 

"The Marcellus Shale has been underneath Pennsylvania for centuries, but the extraction of natural gas began only recently. The 'fracking' boom is changing the landscape of northeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania," NPR reported

Pennsylvania has 59 operators and 6,391 active wells, the report said. 

Fracking has stoked major concerns about whether the practice is a threat to the water supply. 

"In Pennsylvania, state regulators identified 161 instances in which drinking water wells were impacted by drilling operations between 2008 and the fall of 2012," Environment America, a policy group, said in a report titled "Fracking By The Numbers." 

Image credit: "Rig," Nicholas_T © 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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