HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A decision to ban oil and gas drilling on state land in Pennsylvania was met with praise and criticism, with an industry leader describing it as a "lose-lose."
Louis D'Amico, president and executive director of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, said the moratorium struck a blow against an industry that's already returned more than $700 million in revenue to the state in the last seven years.
"This is a lose-lose for Pennsylvania's taxpayers and energy consumers," he said in a statement Thursday.
His comments follow a decision from state Gov. Tom Wolf to reinstate a moratorium on oil and gas leases in state parks and forests. A ban was enacted in 2010 by Gov. Ed Rendell, but modified last year by Gov. Tom Corbett to allow drillers to explore for oil or gas so long as it didn't interfere with land integrity.
Wolf said the decision was about striking a balance to economic vitality and preservation.
"Natural gas development is vital to Pennsylvania's economy, but so is the economic and environmental viability of our parks and forests," he said during a signing ceremony at a state park.
A study from Duke University last year found oil and gas leases on state lands in Pennsylvania generated about $77 million in 2012. The state hosts the Marcellus shale natural gas formation, which accounts for almost 40 percent of all shale gas produced in the United States.
John Norbeck, acting president of conservation group PennFuture, said he was pleased the state's freshman governor took such swift action to protect state lands.
"The governor has wisely chosen to protect the people of Pennsylvania over the profits of drillers," he said in a statement.