Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Corbett attaches conditions to possible gas-drilling fee

Speaking to members of the Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia yesterday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said he would consider signing legislation imposing an impact fee on natural gas drillers - but only after his Marcellus Shale commission finished studying how a fee might affect drilling operations. And only if the revenue goes to local communities most affected by drilling, not to the state's general fund controlled by the legislature.

This will not be welcome news to legislators sponsoring bills that would use portions of a drilling fee to fund the state's Growing Greener program and for environmental cleanups,
water and sewer infrastructure, impacted state highway improvements and other uses.
[See: Pennsylvania moving slowly toward a tax on natural gas]

Gov. Corbett Gov. Corbett fields questions in Philadelphia (Inquirer Photo)

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Corbett told the business audience that "gas drillers
and related companies have created 48,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and that the state needed
to help the industry expand here." 

And while natural gas extraction has been largely confined to the northern and western parts of the state, the governor suggested Philadelphia could ultimately benefit.

"There's this little port in Philadelphia," he quipped, pointing a thumb toward the river. "We could become, through that port, a natural gas exporter to the world."

The governor also shrugged off suggestions that his proposed $27.3 billion state budget--which cuts about $1 billion in school funding-- was "sticking it to Philadelphia."

"You think that this hits Philadelphia?" Corbett told reporters before a reception with city business leaders. "Pittsburgh feels the same way, Harrisburg feels the same way, rural counties feel the same way. It is making the entire state look at the fact that we should only spend that which we have coming in revenue. It's fiscal reality."

Corbett said that the severity of the budget's funding cuts should not be a surprise to anyone.

"I campaigned on this," he said. "I believe everybody wanted me to keep my word, they just didn't want me to keep my word as it pertained to them."

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