Journalism in the Public Interest

Pennsylvania Governor Proposes Fee on Gas Drillers

Pennsylvania is the only major oil-and-gas-producing state without a drilling tax. The state’s governor has promised not to raise taxes so he’s proposing a fee instead, angering environmentalists.


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced a plan Monday to impose the first-ever fees on companies drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania. (Daniel Shaknen/AP Photo)

Gov. Tom Corbett announced a plan today to impose the first-ever fees on companies drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania and to use the revenue raised to cover costs related to gas production.

Under Corbett's proposal, drillers would pay up to $160,000 per well, spread out over the first 10 years of the well's production, though they could earn credits of up to 30 percent by investing in natural gas fueling stations or gas-powered buses. The governor's office estimated that the state and local governments would split $120 million to $200 million a year in fee revenue.

Pennsylvania has been the only major oil-and-gas-producing state without a drilling tax or fee, drawing heat from environmental groups as well as from some members of the legislature and public. Corbett's plan would change that, but advocates criticized the approach of charging flat fees, rather than taxing drillers based on production or revenue, as several other states do.

"This impact fee structure is a gift to the drillers," said Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of PennFuture, an environmental group that has pushed for stronger drilling rules. Tomorrow morning, Jarrett said she would join several advocacy groups and state legislators in calling for a tax on gas extraction.

Corbett's fee proposal is part of a larger overhaul of Pennsylvania's drilling rules. His plan also would expand the buffer between drilling operations and water wells and increase fines for some safety or environmental violations.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, issued a statement saying it supports Corbett's plan in general and that it was still reviewing the specifics.

Corbett has proposed sending three-quarters of the fee money to local governments to spend on the effects of drilling, from road maintenance to emergency response preparedness to shortages of affordable housing.

The rest of the revenue would be divided among several state agencies, including the transportation, environment and health departments. Some environmental and budget groups have argued for fewer restrictions on where and what the money is spent on, saying drilling has statewide effects and costs.

As ProPublica has reported, health complaints are emerging in Pennsylvania and other states where drilling has intensified. In June, Pennsylvania's health secretary proposed creating a health registry to track drilling-related complaints.

The health department could receive $1 million to $2 million a year from the fee, based on estimates from the governor's office, but it's unclear whether the money would be used on the registry. The governor's announcement says that fee revenue could be used to investigate health complaints and for "collecting and disseminating information." Health Department spokeswoman Christine Cronkright said the agency would submit plans to the governor within 30 days for how it would like to spend the money.

To become final, some of Corbett's proposals would require legislative action, while others could be implemented with administrative changes.

Jarrett said she's concerned that the entire package will be submitted to the legislature as a block, tying toughened regulations and penalty hikes to the fee proposal.

"I would not want to see the Marcellus fee tied to all these improvements," she said. "They are separate issues and they should go on separate tracks."

Time to disembowl the goose looking for the source of all that gold.

The Gov and his commission are wholely owned subsidiaries of the gas industry.This proposal is a total abdication by the state to localities that are utterly incapable of taking on the gas industry-as they well know.
PA is being royally screwed and somehow nobody cares-compared to Wisconsin and Ohio we get no coverage of the ultra-rightwing crap that is being served up by our totally Teaparty “government” as our schools are ruined, our environment trashed and our civil liberties eroded

Barry Schmittou

Oct. 4, 2011, 4:13 p.m.

@ Sue

I believe all state and national government leaders of both political parties are “wholely owned subsidiaries” of large corporations including oil, gas, coal, banking, insurance, and weapons. For details of massive corporate crimes with zero prosecutions, including Wachovia Bank laundering $378 BILLION for murderous Mexican drug cartels, please check out

Bush enabled the same crimes. At least he’s out of office, but I believe the Repub presidential candidates are all corporate puppets and I’m sure Obama is. The corruption is so widespread I believe it must be wickedness in high places mentioned in Ephesians 6:12. I pray the citizens of Pennsylvania and the U.S. will be protected from the no conscience leaders who have overthrown the U.S. Government and constitution.

wrong!it is way too easy to paint them all with the same brush and take refuge in a document from 2000 years ago.

There are excellent sources to get actual information, ya know!

Barry Schmittou

Oct. 5, 2011, 10:34 a.m.

@ Sue

My belief that the evil we see today must be wickedness in high places mentioned in Ephesians 6:12 is supported by the following current evidence of intricate complex organized crimes that are being protected by the U.S. govrenment and this is about one tenth of the evidence I have :

Here’s a list of part of the Non Prosecution Agreements Obama and Bush gave to their campaign contributors. You can see links to the actual Non Prosecution Agreements later by pasting :

Wachovia Bank laundered $378 billion for Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for 35,000 murders. No one was prosecuted by Obama !! Wachovia was fined 110 million which is only one third of one percent of the money they laundered !!

Wachovia gave Obama and other candidates $1.3 million in contributions in 2008. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia and they also gave huge contributions during this time period)

Here’s another list from my website. I have not had time to add Goldman Sachs and other banks yet.

(1) Bank of America, American Express Bank International and Western Union also laundered drug money and no one was prosecuted.

(2) AIG received a Non Prosecution agreement for rigging huge bids to increase sales of Workers Comp;

(3) AIG received a Second Non Prosecution agreement for Aiding & Abetting Securities Fraud;

(4) AIG and Prudential received a Non Prosecution agreement for accounting frauds;

(5) Prudential was also fined $600 Million in Securities Fraud Fines

(6) Prudential, Unum Insurance, and MetLife also committed similar bid rigging violations regarding health care plans and have received multiple Non Prosecution agreements from multiple government agencies;

(7) Metlife still endangers patients lives by ignoring life threatening medical conditions when patients file claims on the policies that MetLife committed frauds to sell;

(8) JP Morgan received a non prosecution agreement for bid rigging in 32 States !!

(9) Wachovia Bank laundered $378 billion of Mexican drug money, no one was prosecuted !!

Businesses in America know they can commit crimes and even kill many citizens and they face almost no chance of prosecution!!

(10) You can paste the following later to see 32 Non Prosecution agreements in 2010. If you scroll down to page three and look in the second column you’ll see how many of the crimes are health care or financial fraud and kickbacks !!

(11) AIG endangers injured war Zone Contractors lives. CNA endangers injured American Workers and injured War Zone contractors !!

(12) During the time AIG rigged bids to increase sales o Workers Comp policies WFAA - TV in Dallas wrote :

“a remarkable number of Texans committed suicide because they could no longer endure the pain caused by their injuries and they had been repeatedly turned down for worker’s comp care.”

(13) Additionally according to :

“Drugmaker Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to illegally marketing its blockbuster antipsychotic Zyprexa for elderly patients. Lilly paid $1.4 billion in criminal penalties”

(No one was prosecuted)

“A doctor named as a co-defendant in one suit - for allegedly taking kickbacks to prescribe the drug extensively at nursing homes - never was pursued.”

“Alpharma paid $42.5 million to settle fraud allegations that it paid kickbacks to doctors to prescribe its painkiller Kadian.”
“At least 15 drug and medical-device companies have paid $6.5 billion since 2008 to settle accusations of marketing fraud or kickbacks.”

No one was prosecuted.

“None of the more than 75 doctors named as participants were sanctioned, despite allegations of fraud or of conduct that put patients at risk, a review by ProPublica found.”

(14) ProPublica wrote these quotes :

“Workers fought long battles for medical care, including such things as prosthetic devices and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Labor Department seldom took action to enforce the law. One official called the system a “fiasco.”

“Labor officials can recommend cases for prosecution to the Justice Department–but have only done so once in the past two decades, according to Labor officials.”

(end of ProPublica quotes)

As mentioned Obama prosecuted no one at Wachovia Bank who laundered $378 billion for Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for 35,000 murders, and I believe this is evidence of the wickedness in high places mentioned in Ephesiaans 6:12. When you add all the other felonies that Obama and Bush’s campiagn contributors committed it confirms my belief of tremendous evil enabled by Obama and Bush.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Fracking: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

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