Energy. Environment. Economy.



Meet Joe Scarnati


Joe Scarnati is the Pennsylvania state Senate’s President Pro Tempore, a post he’s held since November 2006. The Republican represents Jefferson, Cameron, Elk, McKean, Potter and Tioga counties, as well as portions of Clearfield and Warren. He was first elected to the Senate in 2000.

When Catherine Baker Knoll died in November 2008, Scarnati became lieutenant governor. He held both titles until January 2011, when Republican Jim Cawley was sworn in as LG.

Scarnati occupies an interesting position, when it comes to the taxation of Marcellus Shale drilling. When the Democrat-controlled House passed severance tax bills in 2009 and 2010, Scarnati and other Senate Republican leaders killed the proposals, arguing their tax rates were prohibitively high. Later, when fiscally conservative Republicans took control of both the House and governor’s office, Scarnati led the charge for an impact fee on drilling. He helped author Act 13 of 2012, which imposed an annual levy on every well in Pennsylvania.

Latest Posts

Scarnati says natural gas tax would cost Pa. 250,000 jobs

More than a month into a budget stalemate between Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-led state legislature, the governor and Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati continue to spar over whether to tax natural gas drillers. Scarnati, speaking on WITF’s Smart Talk Wednesday morning, implied a natural gas severance tax would cost the state 250,000 jobs–a figure [...]

GOP preps a no-tax budget, daring Wolf to veto

The centerpiece of Governor Tom Wolf’s state budget died its umpteenth death around a negotiating table this week. Republican legislative leaders emerged from closed-door negotiations with the Democratic Wolf administration to announce that the governor’s proposed severance tax on natural gas drillers is a non-negotiable no-go. “Our counter-proposal was nothing,” said Senate President Pro Tem [...]

Senate committee approves shale gas health bill

A bill to create a Marcellus Shale health advisory panel, which never made it out of committee last year, was approved by the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee unanimously today.  Senate Bill 375, introduced by Senate Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati (R-Jefferson), would create a nine-member panel to advise the legislature on the health impacts of [...]

Bill to monitor Marcellus Shale health effects reintroduced in state Senate

A bill aimed at creating an advisory panel to monitor potential public health effects of Marcellus Shale drilling has been reintroduced in the state Senate. Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R- Jefferson) first proposed the measure in 2013. He reintroduced it on Friday. SB 375 would create a nine-member advisory panel that would meet [...]

Top Republican Floats Proposal To Create Marcellus Shale Health Panel

Early versions of the law that became Act 13 earmarked money for research into natural gas drilling’s medical impact, but the final version didn’t set any money aside for health-related studies. At the time, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati’s top staffer, Drew Crompton, supported the move. He warned  a study could be “dangerous” if [...]

Political Pressure Led Philadelphia Democrats To Back Impact Fee

Why did a liberal Democrat who once called the Senate’s Marcellus Shale impact fee “absurd” end up voting for the bill? Senator Vincent Hughes said he was threatened. The man who allegedly did the threatening, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, framed the discussions a different way.  Scarnati said the negotiations were aimed at generating [...]

Conference Committee Approves Impact Fee, Setting Table For Final Votes

Republicans Joe Scarnati (l) during Monday night's conference committee vote

This time tomorrow, legislation overhauling Pennsylvania’s natural gas drilling regulations and imposing a per-well impact fee may be headed to Governor Corbett’s desk. A joint House-Senate conference committee approved a 174-page bill tonight. Senate rules allow a vote on the plan first-thing tomorrow morning. The House requires a 24-hour wait on all votes, which means [...]

Scarnati Says Impact Fee Agreement Is Approaching

An impact fee update from Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, via the AP: HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s highest-ranking state senator says he thinks an agreement on a sweeping bill to impose a fee on the booming natural gas drilling industry can be finished in a week, right before Gov. Tom Corbett unveils his budget plan. Senate [...]

The Latest Impact Fee Deadline: Before Corbett’s Budget Address

From Pennsylvania Public Radio’s Mary Wilson, the first Marcellus Shale impact fee update of 2012. Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, who’s been pushing for a locally-distributed levy on drilling for more than a year now, says negotiations need to wrap up before Governor Corbett’s February budget address, or the fee may not happen. “I [...]

Common Cause Report Details Campaign Contributions From Drillers

Common Cause is out with a new study today, documenting how much money natural gas companies have donated to politicians in Washington and Harrisburg. This is far from an objective report – Common Cause is straightforward in its opposition to hydraulic fracturing, and repeatedly warns of its dangers throughout the document. The group derides Pennsylvania’s [...]

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