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Toohil Supports Marcellus Shale Impact Bill
11/17/2011
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) today voted in favor of the Marcellus/Utica Shale Impact Bill (House Bill 1950). The legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 107 to 76 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The final version of House Bill 1950 deals with any local and statewide impacts resulting from the exploration and production of natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in many parts of Pennsylvania. It would give counties the option of imposing an impact fee on drilling companies.

“This legislation is a fair compromise for the people of Pennsylvania and the natural gas drilling industry,” said Toohil. “I believe it protects both our citizens and the environment, and at the same time, allows for continued job growth in an industry that holds such great economic promise for our state.”

House Republican leaders worked with statewide municipal government associations to craft aspects of the legislation. The bill creates uniformity to specifically help those communities dealing with drilling; strengthens the laws, regulations and oversight to protect water and the environment; and brings needed, dedicated funding for programs benefitting the state’s environmental resources.

Under House Bill 1950:

• Counties have the option of imposing an impact fee that may not exceed $40,000 in the first year of production; $30,000 in the second year; $20,000 in the third year; and $10,000 in the fourth through 10th years of production.

• 75 percent of impact fee revenue will be allocated to the counties and municipalities where drilling takes place, with 36 percent of that being retained by counties; 37 percent distributed to municipalities that host wells; and 27 percent distributed to all municipalities.

• 25 percent of impact fee revenue will be allocated to the Commonwealth, with 70 percent to PennDOT for road, bridge, rail and other infrastructure improvements; 10.5 percent to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for regulation of unconventional gas wells and plugging of abandoned gas wells; 7.5 percent to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for pipeline safety; 4.5 percent to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) for emergency response planning, training and coordination; 3.75 percent to the Department of Health for research related to drilling impacts; and 3.75 percent to the Office of the State Fire Commissioner for first responder training.

In addition to enabling counties to impose an impact fee, House Bill 1950 also takes steps to protect the environment. It strengthens the state’s regulatory oversight of drilling to prevent accidents and hold drilling companies accountable for any adverse impacts. These changes include providing uniform safety standards; increasing setback distances between gas wells and private water wells, streams, ponds and public water supplies; and increasing civil penalties for violations of the act.

The measure also designates revenue from the state’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund, which includes rents and royalties from oil and gas leases on land owned by the Commonwealth, to support conservation and recreation; provide a match for federal grants; or to support other established funding programs. Specific programs that will receive funding through the Oil and Gas Lease Fund include conservation districts, the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund and the Environmental Stewardship Fund.

“This legislation emphasizes our commitment to the job opportunities the industry represents,” said Toohil. “It also illustrates how natural gas exploration and production can be done in a safe and responsible manner.”

State Representative Tarah Toohil
116th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
RepToohil.com
Facebook.com/RepToohil
Contact: 
Rep. Toohil’s Office 
717.260.6136

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