(HARRISBURG) – – The Senate today approved a Conference Committee report to institute a Marcellus Shale impact fee that balances environmental concerns and provides reasonable resources to communities that are impacted by Marcellus drilling, according to Senator John R. Gordner (R-27), who supported the measure.
“Three years of negotiations have produced a balanced piece of legislation supported by local government groups as well as many environmental organizations,” said Senator Gordner. “The final product will allow for continued growth of an important industry, while balancing concerns for the environment and local control of Marcellus development.”
House Bill 1950 provides for a fee schedule for natural gas drillers that is based upon well production and the market price of gas. Sixty percent of the fees will be directed to local governments and counties impacted by natural gas drilling. Forty percent of the fees will be allocated for use by the state to support environmental programs such as the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, water and sewer projects, acid mine drainage cleanup, watershed initiatives and open space and greenway development.
Senator Gordner also said a portion of Marcellus revenue will be directed to the Natural Gas Energy Development Program, which will allow for conversion of fleet vehicles from internal combustion engines to natural gas. “This allows us to decrease our dependency on foreign oil and provides for pollution free fleet vehicles,” said Senator Gordner.
House Bill 1950 also provides for enhanced environmental safeguards by increasing setback distances from residences and water sources near gas wells, requiring well pad sites to be designed to prevent spills, increasing bonding and enforcement provisions and requiring well operators to disclose hydraulic fracturing components.
“Marcellus Shale has provided Pennsylvania with many opportunities, such as good family-sustaining jobs and reliable low-cost energy. It also has presented many challenges. House Bill 1950 represents a balanced approach to take advantage of the opportunities of a new industry while protecting our environment and our local way of life in the Marcellus Region,” said Senator Gordner.
House Bill 1950 is supported by: the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Growing Greener Coalition.