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PA Dems: Pass Impact Fee ASAP

Democrats in the Pennsylvania Senate are renewing their calls for an impact fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas wells to be passed this fall.

Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said he would support an impact fee measure that allows for job creation, but also helps to protect the environment from any negative effects of drilling.

An impact fee would assess energy companies a certain amount for each shale gas well they drill in the state. While it's not as lucrative as a percentage tax on gas production, an impact fee seems more likely to pass the legislature with bipartisan support. Governor Tom Corbett has said he's open to the idea.

Speaking in Luzerne County Wednesday, Costa said he'd like to see impact fee revenue benefit all 67 counties of Pennsylvania.

"The impact is not felt by the geographic boundaries of a community," said Costa. "The impact is felt across this Commonwealth, and in neighboring communities as well, and that's why it's essential that we have a policy and a process by which communities are able to participate statewide in the ability to be partial to what goes on, as it relates to the infrastructure share."

Democratic legislators have argued that impact fee revenue should go even to counties that have no drilling sites, because the industry uses roads and pipelines in every county.

In addition to compensating for infrastructure damage, State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) said an impact fee must also provide "a new revenue stream for environmental protection and preservation where federal and state funding has dried up in recent years."