Stephens Backs Shale Bill to Fund Green Programs, Repair Bridges, and Protect the Environment
HARRISBURG-- Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) supported a Marcellus Shale regulatory and impact fee measure that will bring in $400 million to the state budget by 2016 and dedicate much of that money to environmental protection programs. Forty percent of the revenue raised will be spent on statewide initiatives including funding for deteriorating bridges and flood control projects across Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania will finally collect a fee from drillers,” Stephens said. “This bill allows the growing industry to continue creating Pennsylvania jobs but ensures it’s the industry-- not taxpayers-- that pays for its impact on our Commonwealth. This bill helps counties and municipalities most impacted by drilling, but also dedicates money statewide to preserving green space and programs to help our parks and conservation districts.”

The fee is expected to produce about $180 million in 2012, rising to as much as $400 million annually by 2016. Beginning January 1, 2013, the fee also will be adjusted for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.

Funds would be distributed to: 

        • County Conservation Districts: $2.5 million in 2011/$7.5 million annually by 2014. 
        • The Department of Environmental Protection: $6 million annually. 
        • The Fish and Boat Commission: $1 million annually. 
        • The Office of State Fire Commissioner: $750,000 annually. 
        • The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency: $750,000 annually.

About 60 percent of the remaining money would be returned to localities: 

        • Counties with wells: $33 million in 2012/ $80 million by 2016. 
        • Municipalities with wells: $34 million in 2012/82 million by 2016. 
        • All municipalities in counties with wells: $24.8 million in 2012/ $60 million by 2016.

The remaining 40 percent would go to: 

        • Bridge repairs: $15.75 million in 2012/ $37.9 million by 2016. 
        • Statewide Water and Sewer projects: $15.75 in 2012/ $37.9 by 2016. 
        • Water Quality and Well Plugging projects: $12.6 in 2012/$30.3 million by 2016.

The bill also includes significant environment protections lacking under current law. The bill increases setback requirements, requires disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, and increases bonding requirements.

"For four years, through two previous sessions of the General Assembly and a prior administration, they failed to get anything done to impose a fee on drillers and enact environmental protections,” Stephens said. “We got it done and it's a dramatic improvement over what's currently in place."

State Representative Todd Stephens
151st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
David Foster
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