FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Neal Goodman
Room for improvement on Marcellus Shale drilling legislation
HARRISBURG, Nov. 17 – State Rep. Neal Goodman today voted against Marcellus Shale gas drilling legislation (H.B. 1950) advanced by House Republicans because it fails to raise enough revenue and distribute it in a fair manner, strips local government of their power to regulate the industry and fails to protect water supplies.
"I recognize this is the first step to address one of the most pressing issues in the commonwealth, but there are many improvements that must be made to this bill," said Goodman, D-Schuylkill. "I hope the Senate will act responsibly and make prudent changes."
Goodman said the Senate should add a 5 percent severance tax to the legislation. Currently, the bill has a fee structure that equates to a 1 percent tax. It would raise $160,000 over the life of a well. The average Marcellus Shale gas well in Pennsylvania is projected to generate $16 million over its life.
"This industry can well afford to pay a modest tax," Goodman said. "It's already paying a 6.1 percent tax in West Virginia and a 5.4 percent in Texas. West Virginia collects $993,700 per well and Texas collects $878,500 per well."
The bill would keep most of the revenue in areas that have drilling. Goodman said the revenue should be shared equally by the state, local government and an environmental stewardship fund.
Goodman said he's also concerned that setback from water supplies in the bill are not adequate. The bill allows a gas well to be 1,000 feet from a municipal drinking water source.
Goodman added that the bill erodes local control of where drilling and related activity can take place, and makes the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office the final say on regulation disputes.
"Local government should have the final say on the location of a gas well, pipeline or other drilling-related
activity, not a Harrisburg official," Goodman said.