The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Fund is no longer sitting on the side-lines and waiting for the drills and pads to move onto environmentally sensitive public lands.
The Camp Hill based environmental group has filed its intent to sue Governor Tom Corbett when Corbett overturns a moratorium on drilling for natural gas on state land.
Defense Fund President Ron Evans described the governor’s plan, “as a wholesale land grab that has the potential to make the environmental impact of the coal industry look like the minor leagues.”
Evans says his group is not against drilling in the Marcellus, so long as “it is done thoughtfully and in a way that can be controlled.”
Forest land now of primary concern to PEDF was set aside by an executive order in 2010. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources found that lifting the moratorium will put into play at least 700,000 of acres it has deemed environmentally sensitive to old growth, wetlands, endangered wildlife and in proximity to watersheds.
Does Evans know firsthand of any animals or plant life that will be jeopardized? ”No, but every action that the law affords you right now is reactive, in other words, the problem has had to occur and then you take action, and by then, the damage is done.”
Kevin Harley, Governor Corbett’s spokesperson, did not return a call to Rock The Capital.
Evans said beyond the lawsuit that state and federal agencies such as the EPA need to, “initiate some controls and monitoring”, and if the PEDF is not successful in keeping the moratorium in place he said,”people better be super diligent in terms of policing some of those areas as to ensure that we don’t have damage occurring.”
Evans’ group is putting up six figures to mount its lawsuit, and that’s even with one of their lawyers agreeing to take it on Pro-Bono.
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