"From our point of view, there will be impacts," said Cindy Dunn, the president of PennFuture and a former department executive. Additional drilling will create noise and air pollution, and use water resources for hydraulic-fracturing operations, she said.
Corbett's action would lift a ban put in place by Gov. Ed Rendell during his last months in office in 2010, when state conservation officials said any additional leasing would jeopardize the state's certification for sustainable-forestry practices.
John H. Quigley, former department chief and now a private consultant, expressed skepticism that the state could find enough additional leasable acreage to generate $75 million.
The state last received about $3,000 an acre for Marcellus gas leases, which would mean the department would have to lease an additional 25,000 acres to hit Corbett's budget target.
"It's going to be in the Pennsylvania Wilds," said Quigley, referring to the vast stretch of forests in the northern tier.
Henderson, Corbett's energy executive, said the governor would issue "in due time" a new executive order that prohibited leasing of state park and forest lands in situations that would result in a surface impact or disturbance.
He said the order would also direct future royalty payments for use of state park and forest infrastructure; acquire high-value inholdings (small privately owned tracts that are surrounded by state lands); and purchase privately owned oil and gas rights underlying high-value surface lands owned by the state.
Inquirer staff writer Amy Worden contributed to this article.