Christiana Supports Legislation to Reform Oil and Gas Act
HARRISBURG — A major piece of legislation aimed at permitting impact fees on Marcellus Shale natural gas wells has been the topic of debate this week in the state House of Representatives. The debate culminated today with the passage of House Bill 1950 by a final vote of 107-76, said Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver).
“The natural gas industry is providing our state with an economic opportunity of which we need to take advantage,” said Christiana.
The local-enabling legislation, which mirrors Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal, would allow counties to enact an impact fee on wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale for up to 10 years, generating more than a billion dollars for Pennsylvania’s communities.
“I have said before that I would be willing to support a reasonable bill which includes an impact fee that would keep Pennsylvania competitive in the natural gas industry, all while maintaining our number one priority—the safety and protection of our environment,” said Christiana. “This bill does all of these things, making certain that jobs and economic development stay in the Commonwealth and do not leave to pursue drilling opportunities in Ohio and other neighboring states.”
House Bill 1950 allows revenue collected from locally imposed fees to be used by impacted counties for projects such as road and bridge repairs, water and sewer systems construction and/or repair, preserving water supplies, County Conservation District assistance, local planning and local tax reduction.
“In order to reduce the fiscal impacts of natural gas exploration, it is important that we direct the significant majority of the money collected from drilling companies, not to Harrisburg, but to our local counties, like Beaver and Washington,” said Christiana.
In addition to enabling counties to impose an impact fee, House Bill 1950 makes a series of reforms to the state’s Oil and Gas Act to strengthen the state’s regulatory oversight of drilling to prevent accidents and hold drilling companies accountable for any adverse impacts.
“Ensuring the safety of our citizens and the protection of our environment should always be our top concern,” Christiana said.
House Bill 1950 now moves to the Senate for consideration. The Senate has also approved a separate impact fee proposal. Differences between the House and Senate proposals must be resolved before the legislation can be signed into law.
“An undeniable fact is that the Marcellus Shale industry creates irreplaceable job opportunities and economic advantages for Pennsylvania,” Christiana said. “This legislation doesn’t hinder that; it just provides more uniform regulations that the drilling companies must follow.”
State Representative Jim Christiana
15th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Abbey Fosnot