Pa. natural gas bill still controversial

Feb. 9, 2012 at 7:50 AM

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a measure that imposes a fee on natural gas drillers, though critics are still debating the issue.

The state House of Representatives late Wednesday voted 101-90 on a measure that imposes a local impact fee on energy companies drilling for natural gas in the state. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign the measure into law.

Cornett said the legislation is in line with the state's "commitment to safe and responsible natural gas development here in Pennsylvania."

Part of the lucrative Marcellus shale play lies in Pennsylvania. The bill would send 60 percent of a fee pegged to natural gas prices to communities where drilling takes place and the other 40 percent to mostly green initiatives in the state.

State Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery, said Pennsylvania was the last state without any type of charge associated with natural gas drillers.

"Every single day Pennsylvania drillers are not charged a fee or tax is a day drillers are drilling, not paying for the impact," she was quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying.

Jan Jarrett, president of PennFuture, a group opposed to "outdated dirty sources of power," said the House measure was a disappointment.

"This bill proves the adage 'money talks,' as the governor and the general assembly adopted everything the deep-pocketed drilling interests wanted," she was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

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