House Republicans Join Impact Fee Debate
As we’ve noted before, House Republicans have been largely mute in the debate over whether or not to impose an impact fee on natural gas drilling, and what that levy would look like.
A serious House GOP measure is finally in the works, according to the Post-Gazette, which is first with the news:
That measure, from Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler, appears to be on the fast track for a committee vote next week. “I anticipated that there will be swift action,” Ellis said in an interview.
The fee proposal would match the governor’s – and the Senate version’s, before the fee provision was removed this week – $40,000 initial payment, decreasing annually to $10,000 in years four through 10. It also would be county-assessed, with a distribution formula that is similar to the administration’s plan.
Two key changes would be taking the dollars that the governor earmarked for the Department of Health to investigate complaints and perform outreach, and instead boost the share for the Department of Environmental Protection. Local governments also would be able to use their share to decrease local tax rates.
Unlike Corbett’s proposal, the Ellis plan would use royalty dollars coming into the state’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund to assist county conservation districts, continue to fund the Growing Greener environmental initiatives, as well as provide dollars to communities within the state forests (which see impacts from the wells on state-owned land). The Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund also would receive a portion of those dollars in 2014.
The Senate will likely send its impact fee over to the House early next week.