Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says he’d be willing to “listen to” a natural gas drilling impact fee, as long as it doesn’t send money into Pennsylvania’s General Fund. The slight shift in stance comes as the governor’s commission on Marcellus is set to hold its first meeting later today. Top Democrats in the PA Senate say they are also favorable to the type of fee being floated by lawmakers.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says it is “sinful” drillers aren’t paying a tax or fee for natural gas extraction. He wants money from a levy to go toward local impact costs, environmental protection efforts and infrastructure repair. “We’ll go along with not [putting money in the general fund],” says Costa. “If we’re going to impose a tax, which I think we should, it should be back to the local communities, it should be to the environmental community, and also further infrastructure investments.”
Costa is pushing for the environmental component of the fee to be placed in an “environmental stewardship fund or some other program” such as Growing Greener III. “That allows us the opportunity to drive it out, to do the regulatory piece, the policing, the enforcement and the monitoring that needs to take place,” says Costa.
Costa seems to be roughly on the same page as his Republican counterparts, who want a low-level impact fee to fund local governments and environmental protection. Corbett says he “understands” there’s a local impact, but he wants to wait for a final report from his Marcellus Shale commission, before committing to a specific plan.