The Scranton Times-Tribune reports the state Department of Environmental Protection is looking into raising the fees drillers pay for shale gas well permits, to keep up with the demands on the department:
The department estimates that it will receive $14.7 million in well permit fees in fiscal year 2014-15 if the increase is adopted, rather than the $7.4 million it expects to receive with the current fee structure.
The proposed fee increase would allow the department to hire 28 new staff members, including engineers, inspectors and subsurface policy specialists, DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said. The hires will be staggered “to ensure that our revenues will continue to support the additional staff for the long term,” he said.The oil and gas program currently employs 202 people, up from 64 in 2004.
The proposal is scheduled for discussion at the department’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board meeting tomorrow morning in Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania took in three percent less this year in Act 13 impact fees (which are distributed to agencies like the DEP and local governments throughout the state) due to the decline in natural gas prices.