Negotiations over new bill involve updating Pennsylvania’s oil and gas laws and imposing an impact fee on Marcellus Shale wells.  In the meantime, Governor Corbett signed the state budget into law. Corbett plans to unveil the second budget tomorrow (Tuesday).  The new legislation hasn’t been released to the public yet, but when it does, the information will be posted on the StateImpact Pennsylvania website.

Last year’s spending plan cut more than $1 billion in state spending  with tax revenues below expectations.  Corbett is expected to cut even more this year, which worries Pennsylvanians.  Pennsylvanians already feel stretched for budget.  School districts are fearful of losing more aid.  Business associates, key Corbett supporters, are pressing for tax cuts in hope to improve the state economy and create an attractiveness for new businesses.

The impact fee for Marcellus Shale wells will be a substantial amount of money with the minimum cost of $240,000 per well, not including inflation, and a maximum cost of $355,000, again, not including inflation.  The fee correlates with the price of natural gas.   For example, if the price is between $3 and $5 the fee would be $310,000 per well over 15 years.  The price would increase if the prices went above $5 .  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the price now is less than $2.50.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission would collect and distribute the fee – 60% of the money would go to areas affected by drilling for things such as infrastructure and public-safety cost, while the other 40% would go to statewide projects.  Statewide projects include, but are not limited to,  overall environment improvement, beautification, protections of open spaces, and recreational trails.