Friday, February 10, 2012

Feb. 13 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Feb 13 PA Environment Digest now available.  Click Here to print this entire Digest.

Senate, House Send Drilling Fee, Environmental Protection Bill To Governor

The House Wednesday voted 101 to 90 to send Marcellus Shale legislation-- House Bill 1950 (Ellis-R-Butler)--  to the Governor for his signature.  The House followed a 31 to 19 vote in the Senate Tuesday to approve the same legislation.
            House Bill 1950 contains a uniform, statewide county-adopted drilling impact fee and a set of more than a dozen additional environmental protection measures.  In addition, the bill contains a transfer of monies from the DCNR Oil and Gas Fund to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund. (Click Here for bill summary.  Click Here for revenue distribution.)
            If all the Marcellus counties adopted the drilling fee, the fee would raise about $180.5 million in 2011 and $211.1 million in 2012 and revenue would increase to about $355 million in 2015.  (Click Here for revenue projections.)
            Unfortunately, these gains in funding for local government and environmental projects were offset in part Tuesday in the Governor's FY 2012-13 budget proposal which calls for $56.6 million in funds from the Keystone Recreation, Parks and Conservation Fund and the Cigarette Tax to go to the General Fund to balance the state budget. 
            About $36.1 million from the Keystone Fund and $20.5 million from the Cigarette Tax goes to the General Fund.  While Department of Agriculture staff have said the $20.5 million will be made up with interest payments from the Growing Greener II bond fund, that is still a net loss to environmental funding.

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