Gov. Tom Corbett has lifted a restriction on additional natural-gas drilling in Pennsylvania that could allow more extraction in the Marcellus Shale region.
The Republican governor, who took office last month, revoked the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources's veto power over drilling permits on state land where the state does not own the mineral rights. The DCNR would no longer be able to reject permits in those areas.
According to Sen. Mary Jo White, R-Clarion, chairwoman of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, allowing the DCNR to veto drilling permits on land where the state does not own extraction rights would have cost Pennsylvania tens of millions of dollars.
"The Department of Environment Protection has done a good job of working to ensure that natural gas is developed responsibly, and DCNR has negotiated and executed lease agreements which contain meaningful added protections for publicly owned lands," White said in a statement.
"However, if there is justification for general conditions on natural gas production on all state lands, these should be adopted by statute or regulation, and must adhere to settled case law," she added.
Pennsylvania does not place a fee or levy on the extraction of natural gas located in its Marcellus Shale region.
Lawmakers have yet to agree upon a tax rate.
Democrats last year sought a tax of 39 cents per thousand cubic feet. Republicans favor a lower tax structure.