PennFuture, one of Pennsylvania's leading environmental advocacy organizations, is calling for support for their efforts to bring legislative action to stop the prospect of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania's state parks. Gas companies, which are steadily expanding drilling operations throughout the state, are current performing preliminary studies evaluating state parks for drilling operations. Most importantly, despite seeming counter-intuitive, drilling for gas in Pennsylvania's state parks is currently completely legal.
Although it may come as a surprise to many, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not own the mineral rights to over 80 percent of the land in Pennsylvania's state parks. This is a result of the fact that when the state acquired the majority of the land currently established as state park lands, the mineral rights to these lands had already been purchased or were too expensive to acquire. The state acquired only the land, not the right to drill below its surface, and the current laws of Pennsylvania give the current owners of these mineral rights full authority to develop their assets.