July has proven to be a demanding month for Governor Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. Recently, the Commission released a list of recommendations on how to treat the growing drilling industry. Members of the Commission assert that their recommendations were based on science, not on politics or corporate influence.
The Commission offered recommendations regarding a local impact fee for drilling and the controversial issue of forced pooling. Governor Corbett supports the idea of a local impact fee, provided that the money collected from the fee directly support the areas affected by drilling. While many members of the Commission suggested imposing a tax as opposed to a fee, Corbett disagreed, holding to the no-tax pledge that he signed during his campaign.
The most contentious of the Commission’s discussions was the topic of forced pooling. When a majority of landowners in an area have signed leases to allow drilling, the holdout minority could potentially be forced by drilling companies to become a drilling unit. Although the drilling companies would not be allowed to drill on the surface of the reluctant landowners’ property, the companies could tap into the natural gas below ground, compensating the unwilling landowners with royalties.
While the Governor’s Commission suggested that Pennsylvania’s laws be “modernized” to allow for pooling again, Corbett disagreed. Pooling is not currently allowed in Pennsylvania for Marcellus Shale drilling, and it seems that Corbett intends to keep it that way, saying in April, “…If I see a bill that contains forced pooling, I won’t sign it.”
See Marcellus advisory committee support impact fees for more details on the Commission’s recommendations.
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