Governor Corbett unveiled his Marcellus Shale legislative package that includes some of the recommendations made earlier by his Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, including a impact fee on each active well. The proposal also increases setback requirements for wells, and proposes other changes to strengthen laws protecting the environment.
Reactions to the plan were as expected with one industry official saying that could work with the governor‟s plan while an environmentalist said it came up short.
“The impact fee would be the lowest of any state with drilling,” the environmentalist said. “And it gives the locals (governments) too much control over the funds.”
Under the governor‟s plan, the counties would decide whether to impose a fee, up to $40,000, and they would have say over nearly all the funds.
The governor said that keeping 90 percent or more of the revenue with the counties makes sense because “the impact takes place in the counties where the drilling is.”
The plan will almost certainly not be approved as proposed. House and Senate Republicans have proposed other plans that include higher impact fees, and a different division of the receipts from the charges.
Under the governor‟s plan, each well would be subject to a fee of up to $40,000 in the first year, $30,000 in the second year, $20,000 in the third year and $10,000 in the fourth through tenth years, adding up to a potential total of $160,000 per well.
Two House Republicans, meanwhile, unveiled plan where revenues would be far higher than under the governor‟s proposal.
The plan from Reps. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery, and Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks would impose a 4.9 percent tax on the drilling.
The proposal would also reverse the revenue distribution of the governor's proposal, with about 75 percent going to statewide programs and about 25 percent going to local governments.