Gov. Corbett is turning out to be consistent - and consistently bad - on the topic of natural-gas drilling.

Corbett came into office vowing not to impose a production tax on drillers, in spite of Pennsylvania's status as the only major gas-producing state that doesn't charge this tax.

Now he's reversing the belated policies of former Gov. Ed Rendell, making it easier for oil and gas companies to drill in state forests. That's taking the state in the wrong direction.

A Corbett spokesman said the governor believes there should be drilling in state forests. Mining companies have been drilling on some state forestland for nearly 60 years, but the question is how extensive those incursions should be.

Late last year, as his term was almost over, Rendell woke up and banned natural-gas drilling on 1.5 million acres of state forest. But in the two years prior to that, the state allowed the leasing of nearly 140,000 acres of state forest for methane drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation.

A total of 700,000 acres of state forest is now available to gas drilling, or nearly one-third of all state forests. The state has received more than $400 million in lease payments, or about $3,000 per acre.

It's this ban Corbett intends to reverse. The governor already has rescinded a sensible policy that required the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to conduct an environmental-impact study before any drilling could occur in state forests and parks where the state doesn't own the mineral rights under the land.

More than 60 state parks lie atop the gas deposits, and this move will frustrate the state's ability to protect these recreational areas from environmental damage. Pennsylvania does not own the subsurface rights to about 80 percent of its state parks.

The record of drilling companies in this new natural-gas boom is mixed. Some drillers have been fined for environmental violations, and the overall impact on streams and groundwater still isn't clear. More than 2,000 wells have been drilled overall, with thousands more planned.

The expansion of drilling has already changed the character of some state forests, as more trees are felled to make room for "well pads" requiring four to six acres of space.

To be sure, in the previous administration, the balancing of environmental concerns was sometimes missing. But under Corbett, any such concerns appear to be forgotten altogether.