The Oil and Gas Lease Fund Act was created in 1955. As I understand it, the money that goes into this fund comes from the leasing of state land to gas companies (except game lands) for gas drilling. The money in this fund is only to be used for conservation programs that might include things like building or fixing state parks, dams and flood control, purchasing land, and maybe fixing up any messes the gas industry makes, etc. Follow this link for a better explanation.
The state of Pennsylvania needs money. At one point Governor Rendell voiced his approval of a severance tax, which would put money from the leasing of state land back into a variety of funds, including DCNR, DEP and other conservation organizations like the fish and game commission. Over the past month or so he seems to have changed his mind. He no longer supports a severance tax. He has stated that he feels it would hurt or disable the gas industry at such an early point in their endeavor. (PLEASE!) So he has laid out some other options for making money instead. One of them is to take funding from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund and put some of that money into the the general fund. There are two ways to do that and they are both explained in the above link.
There is also some discussion of the same thing in the below article from Pennlive.com. I have to say, despite some of the referencing to what the republicans want versus what the democrats want, I find that this really isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about political parties. This issue is about people who pay taxes in the state of PA (that’s all of us). It’s about Pennsylvanians caring for and appreciating their forests and streams. It’s about wanting to have a safe and healthy place to hunt and fish, paddle, hike, bike and camp. It’s about being responsible to ourselves as tax payers and public land users. I feel that the politicians who represent us, especially here in Tioga County, forget that they have their offices because we chose them to do a job for us. Let’s keep reminding them to do it right.
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