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PA Gov. Tom Corbett Proposes To Charge One-Time Fee On Fracking Shale Wells

What a joke. A one-time fee no matter how much revenue produced, or how much damage caused by each well? Chump change. A mere $120 million in a year? I suppose the Koch boys wrote this "compromise" for Governor Corbett: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom

What a joke. A one-time fee no matter how much revenue produced, or how much damage caused by each well? Chump change. A mere $120 million in a year? I suppose the Koch boys wrote this "compromise" for Governor Corbett:

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a fee on natural-gas drilling of as much as $160,000 a well in an effort to find a middle ground between public support for assessing drillers in the booming Marcellus Shale basin and a campaign pledge not to impose taxes.

If passed by the state legislature, the recommendation would generate an estimated $120 million in the first year, most of which would be kept at the local level to help pay the cost to regulate drilling and to repair roads and bridges. Every other gas-drilling state already imposes a fee on wells or a tax on the value of gas that is extracted.

The governor's proposal also includes new requirements that would keep wells farther from streams and water wells. Environmentalists are concerned that the process of extracting shale gas, which involves pumping water and chemicals underground at high pressure, could contaminate surface and drinking water.

"As the number of wells grows, so will the revenue," said Mr. Corbett, a Republican, who linked the industry's growth to the state's economic future. "We are going to do this safely, and we're going to do it right, because energy equals jobs."

Under the governor's plan, about one-quarter of the well fees would go to state agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection and the rest to local communities. Some state lawmakers suggested they may push for higher fees or for more of the money to go to the state.

Democrat Jay Costa, the state Senate minority leader, said the governor's recommendations "fall woefully short" in terms of revenue and the amount that is going to the state. Some Republicans, who have a majority in both the Senate and House, are also pushing for more drilling revenue. GOP state Rep. Thomas Murt plans to introduce a bill Tuesday that includes a 4.9% tax on the gross value of the gas at the wellhead, rather than a fee. His bill would dedicate 29% of revenue to local governments, 27% to state environmental programs and 44% to state programs including drug rehabilitation.

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