Lawmakers wait to see plan for gas-drilling impact fee

    Pennsylvania lawmakers are still waiting for an impact fee bill from Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, though the measure could be introduced later this week.

    Scarnati’s chief of staff, Drew Crompton, said via e-mail he is hoping to introduce the bill by Friday, and that a co-sponsorship memo was distributed to other senators on Monday.

    It’s been about two weeks since the Jefferson County Republican unveiled the outline of his plan, which would assess a $10,000 base fee to every Marcellus Shale well, and send the money to local governments and environmental cleanup efforts. (The fee would increase or decrease according to a calculation based on the well’s production and natural gas’s market price.)

    Kathryn Klaber, the president and executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, is not supporting or opposing Scarnati’s plan. She has said only that the industry group wants a “clear and predictable” fee or tax, if the General Assembly passes one. She explained her parameters as, “to have it be that you know what you get into, and you can plan for that, and do good business planning. Which is the least we as a commonwealth can offer to an industry that’s making investments. Is to be able to know what to expect.”

    Klaber said she’ll hold off further comment until she sees the actual bill. “Again, I think we have to look at all the pieces of it. I don’t believe any of the media–we haven’t seen all the pieces of it,” she explained during a Capitol event highlighting jobs created by natural gas drilling.

    Scarnati has made it clear he’ll press for the impact fee to become law before July. House Republican leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett aren’t overtly opposing the impact fee, but their public reaction to the measure has been lukewarm, at best.

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