A mineral resources bill could provide a new revenue stream for the 14-universities in the State System of Higher Education. SB 367 is now awaiting the governor’s signature after clearing both the House and Senate. It would authorize mineral leases for more state-owned land, like prisons or state-owned universities.
“Currently the law only permits the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the Game Commission or Fish & Boat Commission to enter into such leases,” explains Senator Don White (R-Indiana), the bill’s prime sponsor.
The minerals the bill refers to could include everything from limestone to coal; but most importantly Marcellus Shale natural gas.
Governor Tom Corbett spoke out in favor of the concept on Radio PA’s Ask the Governor program, stressing that horizontal natural gas drilling allows for the wells to be thousands of feet off site – not right in the middle of a the university’s quadrangle.
“This will be beneficial to the student body, if we get tuition reduction, beneficial to the schools and to the State System of Higher Education,” Corbett explains.
Under White’s bill, money raised from the leasing of mineral rights at a state-owned university would be allocated as follows: 50% stays with the home university, 35% is distributed system-wide, and 15% would be used for tuition assistance across all 14-schools.