Scrapbook Photo 02/23/20 - House Budget Hearings On DEP, DCNR Feb. 24:
House Committee Reports Out State Forest Gas Leasing Moratorium Bill

By a vote of 16 to 9, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this week reported out House Bill 2235 (Vitali-D-Delaware) which would impose a five year moratorium on leasing State Forest land for natural gas drilling.

            All the Democratic members of the Committee voted for the bill and two Republicans-- Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming).  Rep. Everett supported moving the bill saying leasing State Forest land may crowd out private landowners who want to lease their own land for drilling.  He represents an area of the state with a lot of Marcellus Shale drilling activity.
            "This vote was an important step in the process," said Rep. Greg Vitali. "I was pleased to see my bill had bipartisan support. I would like to see the full House vote on it when we return to session in late April and hopefully pass it over to the Senate.  What we don't know is what the cumulative impact will be."
            “I was glad to support Rep. Greg Vitali's moratorium on leasing any more of the state forests for gas and oil drilling," said Rep. Harper. "The 'wait and see' period will allow us to fairly assess the effects and damage to our state forests."
            Several other members of the Committee mentioned concerns with the bill, but acknowledged moving the legislation to the House floor was part of a deal to get State Forest leasing amendments withdrawn from consideration during the debate on the General Fund budget bill earlier in the week.
            The Committee also reported out House Bill 1341 (George-D-Clearfield) requiring the testing of sewage sludge before land application, but went over House Bill 2109 (Hornaman-D-Erie) providing for a temporary property tax assessment for alternative energy systems.
            Rep. Bud George (D-Clearfield) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and Rep. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Minority Chair.
            NewsClip: Gas Drilling Moratorium Advances In Harrisburg

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