- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Critics of the natural-gas industry are renewing their opposition to Gov. Tom Corbett’s executive order allowing drilling deep below the surface of Pennsylvania’s state forests and parks.

Advocates from a half-dozen environmentalist groups charged at a Capitol news conference Thursday that the expanded drilling will interfere with recreational activities and increase the risk of environmental harm on nearly 2.5 million acres of public lands.

The order issued Friday by the Republican governor allows leases for gas extraction through horizontal wells drilled from adjacent, privately owned lands or from areas previously leased for drilling in the state forest.

It bars drilling-related construction that would disturb the surface of the public lands.

The initial leases are expected to generate $75 million for the state budget for the year that starts July 1.

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