A long-term moratorium on leasing state land for gas exploration is what Williamsport resident Ralph Kisberg hopes for 2011.
But Kisberg, who is board president of local grass-roots organization Responsible Drilling Alliance, isn't banking just on hope.
The alliance crafted an online petition calling for the moratorium, he said. The petition, which may be accessed at www.sosinpa.org, will be sent to Gov.-elect Tom Corbett and the state Legislature.
"We hope we'll get enough people motivated to sign the petition and send Gov. Corbett a message that he will have to pay attention to," Kisberg said.
According to the petition, half of the state forest land in the Marcellus Shale region already has been leased to gas companies.
Continuing to lease the land for short-term economic gains will deprive future generations of the ability to enjoy state forests, Kisberg said.
"What are we handing to future generations?" Kisberg asked. "This is our watch. If we just think about our short-term concerns, we're doing a huge disservice to them.
"I'd like to give another generation a shot at dealing with this and making the decisions (on whether to drill on state land)," he said.
Kisberg said a moratorium would provide time to assess gas industry impacts to the forest.
"We haven't seen the effects of pipeline, service roads, metering stations, compressor stations - everything you need (for gas development)," he said.
Land that is leased will take a long time to develop - why rush to lease more? "This is a small piece of the world's forests, but it's our piece," he said.