By PATRICK CLOONAN Daily News Staff Writer
An area lawmaker wants an end to plans to lease state lands for natural
State Rep. David Levdansky, D-Forward Township, joined other lawmakers
and environmental and sportsmen’s organizations at a news conference in
Harrisburg last week to voice opposition to Gov. Ed Rendell’s plan to
generate revenue by leasing out additional state forest land to tap the
“We are the stewards of the best state forest system in the U.S.,”
“I will do anything and everything within my power to see that legacy
passed on to my children and future generations of Pennsylvanians.” An
end to leases could impact McKeesport Mayor James Brewster’s proposal
that municipalities receive a share of Marcellus
Shale revenue from leases or from an extraction tax that
Rendell has proposed.
State Reps. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, and Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg,
have expressed support for Brewster’s plan, and Levdansky
has supported an extraction tax, saying it is the same sort of levy West
Virginia now uses.
He also criticized a Republican proposal last year for leasing state
He said the state lands were meant for recreation, not the extraction of
“Using the state forest system as a cash cow to fund the state budget is
the worst environmental policy proposal I have seen in my legislative
career,” Levdansky said.
The groups said 1.5 million of the 2.1 million acres of state forest
land are part of the multi-state gas field that requires deep drilling
and the “fracking,” or breaking up, of shale
with water and sand to obtain the gas.
Levdansky said the state does not hold the mineral rights, or that the
rights already have been leased, for 700,000 of those acres.
“We’ve seen 106,000 acres leased in less than two years and over half of
the state forest acreage in the gas producing region is now open to gas
development,” Levdansky said.
“Enough is enough. Once the gas companies are finished with that
pristine land, it may never be the same.” Levdansky said the governor’s
lease proposal also would raid the state’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund, which
now is used to fund the state parks and Department of Conservation and