Corbett expected to present plan for Marcellus Shale

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to announce his plan for Marcellus Shale policy Monday, more than two months after his appointed commission provided its own policy recommendations.

    The governor’s comprehensive bill will include plans for a local impact fee, a policy that comes with the endorsement of the governor’s Marcellus Shale advisory panel.

    Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, the leading proponent for a fee, said he is looking forward to the governor’s proposal, but also has his own parameters.

    “We don’t want a fee too high that it’ll diminish the investment in the commonwealth. We want to compete with other states, and there’s real competition out there. We want a fee that a majority of it goes back to the impacted areas,” Scarnati said Friday. “And finally, I want a product that the governor can sign.”

    All along, Corbett has said that he will avoid raising taxes.

    Sen. Mary Jo White, a Republican who also supports an impact fee, said there’s a crucial difference between fees and taxes.

    “A fee is really designed to defray the cost of a particular activity. If you get a license fee, it’s the cost of generating that license and the administration of it,” White said. “A tax on the other hand is when you collect money for an activity and then you use it for other purposes.”

    Scarnati has said there’s general consensus that an impact fee should generate about $200 million a year, although the details of the fee itself are still up for debate.

    Scarnati says a broad Marcellus Shale bill should also include safety regulations, incentives for the use of natural gas, and zoning changes.

    His chief counsel says if a Marcellus Shale bill passes the House by the end of October, there will be enough time to pass it in the Senate by the end of the fall session.

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