Nat Gas Drilling Levy on Tap in Pa. House

Source:

"Gov. Tom Corbett warned he plans to veto whatever might pass."

Associated Press, Mark Scolforo

A proposal to impose a levy on Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction will be debated on the state House floor, but Gov. Tom Corbett warned he plans to veto whatever might pass.

GOP Caucus Spokesman Steve Miskin said the debate's expected to be held in the afternoon, in the form of amendments to a Senate-passed hazardous site-cleanup bill.

"Everybody's going to vote their district. . .," Miskin said. "There's no direction."

The main amendment, by Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana, would assess a fee on Marcellus Shale wells of $50,000 in the first year, $25,000 in the second and third years and $10,000/year for the next seven.

The money would be collected and distributed at the county level, with 37.5% going to the host counties, 25% to host municipalities, 17.5% to all municipalities within host county and 10% to conservation districts. The final 10% would go to host counties strictly for use by first responders and emergency medical services.

House Democrats do not support the Reed amendment, said Minority Leader Spokesman Bill Patton. He called it an effort by Republicans to cover themselves in the face of public support for an extraction tax.

"The money it raises is inconsequential over the life of a well," Patton said. "We're talking on the order of 1% or less as an effective tax rate," adding that the amendment would repeal the 1988 Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, a law that funds environmental programs, including Pennsylvania's share of the federal Superfund program, and pays for investigations of illegal hazardous waste disposals.

Corbett, on his way to sign a bill to alter how liability is apportioned for civil lawsuits, said he would veto anything that passes before a panel he appointed reports to him with recommendations, which are expected next month.

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