By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Saying he wants to make sure that people in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can visit state parks and forests for recreational purposes, free from oil and gas development, Governor Tom Wolf has issued an executive order reinstating a moratorium on new leases for oil and gas development in 120 state parks and 20 state forests.
“It comes from a deep-seated and profound respect for what we have here,” the governor said today, signing the measure in the wide open, 275-acre Benjamin Rush State Park, in Northeast Philadelphia.
“We can create really good jobs and a great industry and sustain a strong economy in Pennsylvania, but we have to do it right,” he said.
Governor Wolf, a Democrat, says it’s all about “striking the right balance.”
The order, in his second week in office, reverses last year’s executive order by previous governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, that lifted a blanket ban on drilling leases on public lands.
Wolf noted there were projections from the Corbett administration that drilling could bring in $90 million to help balance the state budget. But, he added, will not assume those revenues when he delivers his budget address on March 3rd.
The governor also points out parks across the commonwealth host 38 million visitors a year, supporting 13,000 jobs and adding $1.2 billion to the state’s economy.