On Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order officially banning the issuing of new leases for oil and natural gas development in state parks, reinstating the ban that Wolf's Republican predecessor Tom Corbett had lifted. The state's positioning atop the Marcellus Shale has made it a hub of energy exploration, while those opposed to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, argued that the activity was destroying natural beauty and resources.
Fracking has also been a major health problem for Pennsylvanians, with 243 cases of contaminated drinking water wells in 22 counties. According to State Impact, around 385,400 acres of land has already been leased to drillers, while 290,000 acres are under development.
Drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania has transformed the state into an energy powerhouse and produced economic prosperity from jobs and royalties over the past several years.
Production of gas in the Marcellus, the biggest and fastest growing U.S. shale gas field centered under Pennsylvania and West Virgina, was expected to reach about 16.6 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), up from just 2.0 bcfd five years ago, according to federal data.
"This is a beautiful state and this is one way we can promote that and protect it," said Wolf. "I absolutely want to do natural gas. If we do it right, we can create really good jobs and a great industry.