In February, Governor Tom Corbett announced his intention to balance the state budget, in part, using millions of dollars in projected revenues from new oil-and-gas drilling leases in state parks and forests. It was the first public acknowledgment of Corbett's plans to lift a 2010 moratorium on leasing.
As part of an investigation, The Allegheny Front and WESA in Pittsburgh obtained and examined more than 600 pages of appointment calendar records for former Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan.
The calendars offer a snapshot of day-to-day business inside the agency tasked with oversight of Pennsylvania's 2.5-million acres of state park and forest lands. They cover a pivotal time in the shaping of Republican Governor Tom Corbett's energy policy.
When big portions of Act 13 were overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last year, it meant the state would likely debate its landmark Marcellus shale law for years to come. Before it was passed, Act 13 was a subject of intense focus by the oil and gas industry. Critics of the law say this lobbying push had excessive influence on the process.
Here at PublicSource, we’re all about information: getting it, writing about it, sharing it. And we think it’s extremely important to share with our readers how we use the information we gather to create the stories we do. After all, we ask for transparency from others, we should be more than happy to give it as well.
This map shows the number of people in Pittsburgh who live within a half-mile of rail lines that can carry crude oil and K-12 schools within that area. Pittsburgh’s total population: 305,704
People living within a half-mile: 126,505 (41%)
Schools within a half-mile: 72
Crude oil routing information is not publicly available in Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern and CSX are the two railroads that move crude oil through state, so we’ve only mapped those rail lines. We were assured by a Pittsburgh emergency response official that crude oil could travel on these tracks. It is important to note that while our calculations are accurate, they are conservative.
For the last eight years, Pennsylvania has been riding the natural gas boom, with companies drilling and fracking thousands of wells across the state. And in a little corner of Washington County, some 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh, EQT Corporation has been busy 2013 drilling close to a dozen new wells on one site.