In a news release issued earlier today, Governor Corbett announced his plans for implementing the 94 recommendations previously released by the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. The recommendations include legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives. The Department will be given increased enforcement authority over gas drillers, including the authority to impose higher fines and more quickly revoke or withhold permits.
In addition, the proposal includes the Governor's proposed impact fee on Marcellus gas drilling. Under the Governor's proposal, 75 percent of the impact fee would be split between the counties and municipalities where Marcellus wells are located, and the remaining 25 percent would go to the state (mostly PennDot) for road improvements, maintenance and other work in the communities where Marcellus wells are located. Of the money going to impacted counties and municipalities, some of the funds can be directed towards environmental projects that include water, stormwater and sewer construction and repair,along with preservation and reclamation of surface and groundwater supplies. Those projects are very similar to the kinds of projects previously funded by Growing Greener.
None of the proposed impact fee money would go into Statewide environmental funds, like Growing Greener or HSCA, and none of the money would go to counties that have no Marcellus well drilling.
The expectation is that one-third of the recommendations will require legislation, while the remainder can be implemented by policy. Governor Corbett has instructed all Cabinet Secretaries to create implementation plans for the policy-oriented recommendations and to have those submitted to his office within 30 days. Sounds to me like Secretary Krancer and his executive staff are going to be very busy between now and November 3.