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Cindy Dunn Was for Natural Gas Before She Was Against It

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


DCNR’s Cindy Dunn, former Penn Future shill for the William Penn Foundation and Heinz Endowments, was for natural gas development before she was against it.

The Pennsylvania House and Senate hearings on the Commonwealth’s 2017-2018 budget continue to illustrate what a sad thing thing, indeed, is the Wolf Administration. Led by a child of wealth with no seeming ability to manage anything, but a strong desire to achieve political correctness, the Administration is ripe for exploitation by special interests. Cindy Dunn, a humorless true believer who has bounced around between government and Penn Future, a tool of Pennsylvania’s two mega-elitists, the Haas and Heinz families, inadvertently provides a window into this world of chaos.

Cindy Dunn

Although the video hasn’t yet popped up on PCN‘s collection of budget hearing recordings, Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) appeared before the House Appropriations Committee on Monday to talk about her agency. The conversation, according a post at the PA Environmental Digest blog, got into the subject of gas drilling on state lands:

Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), Minority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, expressed a concern about again using significant monies from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to pay personnel and operations costs…

Dunn noted DCNR does not own the mineral rights under 85 percent of the land used for state parks.  There are no Marcellus Shale natural gas wells on state parks, but there are some conventional wells on state park land.  She noted there is a moratorium on additional drilling on DCNR land.  Dunn did point out only 20 percent of the leases already issued are now being developed by drillers.  She said there is not a single drilling rig on state forest land at the moment.

What these observations reveal is that the Wolf Administration has effectively shut down natural gas development on state lands and is squandering the money from previous drilling on paying salaries. The money was supposed to go into “conservation, recreation and flood control programs,” but, instead, it’s simply paying the bureaucrats who work for Cindy Dunn. That’s outrageous enough, but there’s more.

The Oil and Gas Lease Fund can’t grow if gas companies can’t develop on state lands. Like President Obama did with off-shore oil leases, Cindy Dunn is playing word games by pretending it’s not the Wold Administration that has shut down drilling but the industry itself. The amount of land leased is largely irrelevant as companies must lease vast acreages before then can proceed to explore and develop them. They know, going in, much of the acreage may never be developable and so does Cindy Dunn. She also knows drilling is safe.

Cindy Dunn

State forest road in Moshannon State Forest that was improved for shale-gas development but retained significant wild character value. A gas line ROW is adjacent to the road.

The implication that drillers have 80% yet to go before they need access to more land is utterly misleading to anyone familiar at all with the nature of oil and gas development. Companies who find good locations and develop successful wells need to know they can acquire more acreage in those specific areas. How much acreage they already own is of no consequence. If gas companies are not able to acquire additional acreage in promising areas to maximize the value of their investments in exploratory wells, they will not develop at all.

It’s that simple and it’s reason Cindy Dunn has implemented an effective moratorium on more leasing; she’s still working for PennFuture and implementing their agenda, while milking the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to do so and cheating Pennsylvanians out of money intended for parks and programs

Even that’s not the biggest part of the story, though. Cindy Dunn is doing everything she can today to prevent any drilling on state land, effectively signaling the eventual complete depletion of the Oil and Gas Lease Fund. Jim Willis laid it all out here. But, here’s the thing; DCNR certainly didn’t take that position when she served as its Deputy Secretary of Conservation and Technical Services during the Rendell Administration.

No, DCNR signed off, just days before the Corbett Administration took office, on a policy that would have allowed both surface disturbance and non-surface disturbance drilling (drilling underneath but not on the surface of state lands). When Corbett went into office he proceeded to modify the policy to permit only non-surface disturbance drilling –  a more restrictive policy.

This decision was demagogued by PennFuture’s sister entity, StateImpactPA, as being tantamount to giving away the store when it was completely the opposite. That’s what the Haas and Heinz families pay them to do, of course, but the lack of journalistic integrity is still shocking.

Cindy Dunn

View of pipeline in Tiadaghton State Forest. Note dogleg at top of hill to minimize long, linear view of pipeline.

The lack of integrity on the part of Cindy Dunn and gang is similarly alarming. She was part of that DCNR decision in the twilight of the Rendell Administration, which had done extensive leasing to bridge their budget gaps. She was for gas leasing before she was against it, in other words.

Her opposition today is, like everything else the Wolf Administration does, appears to be motivated by what she thought all along as a true believer. She’s always hated oil and gas and now that she has a governor who’s more intent on political correctness than bridging budget gaps, she’s free to act on her beliefs, sacrificing not only the economic development natural gas development on state lands would bring, but also the Oil and Gas Lease Fund and the conservation and recreation benefits it was intended to provide. Cindy Dunn is no conversationist; she’s a demagogue.

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