A relatively new industry that has an impact on the environment will probably have a new government fee.
Pennsylvania, the only major gas-producing state that does not tax the taking of natural gas from its soil, moved closer Tuesday to imposing a fee on the drilling in its vast Marcellus Shale reserves that has transformed the state in recent years.
The state Senate voted 31-19 in favor of fees that could raise $180 million from the industry in the first year, while expanding regulations for the booming industry, including a requirement for online disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The measure would fund road work and environmental cleanups and give local governments the power to impose the fees on their local wells.
A couple of conservative groups say the fee is really a tax, while exploration company Range Resources says it'll provide strong, more predictable regulations that are more costly.
Local governments would have the power to decide whether to impose the fee on their local wells.
The fee could be applied to all Marcellus Shale wells, and Republicans said it could bring in more than $1 billion in the first five years. The levy would be tied to the price of natural gas and inflation. Republicans said it would amount to an effective tax rate of about 3 percent, while Democrats said it was more like 1 percent, a sign of how polarized the debate has been.
The industry does have a significant impact on the environment and roads which creates a significant burden on government resources. It makes sense that a fee to address the impact caused by this industry be in place to balance the costs.