A Marcellus Shale bill has cleared the State Senate. The vote and debate held up the Governor’s budget address on Tuesday morning. The chamber approved the conference committee report on HB 1950 by a vote of 31 to 19.
The bill would allow counties to impose a fee on natural gas drillers. 60% of the money raised would go to local governments; the rest would be allocated for a variety of statewide initiatives. The bill also expands environmental regulations on the natural gas industry.
Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria) voted in favor of it, saying it has taken them 3 years to get this far. He said no matter what tax or impact fee they would place on this natural gas, it’s not the panacea that’s going to balance the budget. He points out that West Virginia, because of competition, recently reduced its severance tax.
Senator John Blake (D-Lackawanna) opposed the Marcellus Shale plan, saying it sells Pennsylvania short. He said at the same time we’re slashing public educating and hurting individuals who depend on our social services safety net, we’re forgoing revenue. He says it’s but a fragment of what Pennsylvanians deserve.
Senator Mike Stack (D-Phila) said hard working Pennsylvanians lose out in the deal. He said they had the opportunity to help the entire state, to close the budget deficit, to help kids go to school, to repair roads, but instead, “gas companies win.”