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Pennsylvania Legislators Weigh Drilling Moratorium (But Not For Marcellus)

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You read the headline correctly. The same legislative leaders who have embraced Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling as an economic boon are considering placing a moratorium on natural gas drilling.

The formation in question is the South Newark Basin, which lies underneath southeastern Pennsylvania. More from the AP:

Lawmakers will consider slapping a moratorium on drilling into the untapped South Newark Basin natural gas reservoir, which lies below portions of southeastern Pennsylvania.

The provision is contained in an amendment expected to be added to a key piece of budget-related legislation Friday.

The United States Geological Survey estimates that the South Newark Basin has 876 billion cubic feet of gas, which is a fraction of the 141 trillion cubic feet thought to be contained in the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation.

The Department of Environmental Protection would be barred from issuing permits until the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources completes a study into drilling’s impact.

This, of course, is exactly what environmental groups pushed for and didn’t get when it came to Marcellus Shale drilling.

The language is part of the fiscal code legislation – that’s the revenue side of the state budget – which lawmakers aim to pass by the end of the day tomorrow. The $2.10-a-barrel ethane tax credit aimed at Shell – the one that could result in more than $1.7 billion in breaks over 25 years —  is part of that package, too.

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