The budget deal is shaping up to be a disaster for sportsmen. Instead of assessing a severance tax on gas drillers like Chesapeake Energy and ExxonMobil, the proposal is to open up thousands of acres of state land to drilling. Not only that they won't tax Chesapeake Energy or ExxonMobil, but they want to tax small games of chance - your raffles and bingo games.
That is 390,000 ADDITIONAL acres (in addition to the acreage already under lease) just to generate the revenue that could have been generated by a severance tax to be paid totally by the oil companies without jeopardizing an acre of our state forests. DCNR is powerless to stop this. The best they can do is attempt redirect the attention of gas companies to parts of their district that will feel the least negative impact. e.g. away from the bigwoods to areas that are already partially developed.
I've already told my legislators that we are quits over this and it is my intention to vote non-incumbent. Virtually every other state that has this drilling occurring already has a severance tax. This tax on the oil companies is what should be mandated to pay for the infrastructure repairs necessitated by the drilling traffic and activity rather than pilfering lands held in public trust. You probably know that the environmental watch dog agency DEP has divested the county conservation districts of their previously held charge of providing technical review for Erosion and Sedimentation in their respective counties. At the same time DEP has instituted a "expedited"permit review process which allows issuance of permits after a simple administrative (read clerical) correctness review. Many of these areas that will be leased include watersheds and wetlands assigned the exceptional value designation. Some of these are famous nationally!
One of the local papers quoted a legislator who was stumping for not extablishing a tax as saying something like "most people do not know the difference between a state forest and a state park. Why, there are parts of our state forests that almost no one ever goes to because it is difficult to get there". I cant believe this dolt has the cerebral capacity to control his bladder let alone a legislative district! Those of us who love pennsylvanias best approximation of the wilderness experience available in our state forests and nowhere else in PA should make no mistake , there are indeed sappers in the wire.