As of this writing it was highly possible that Gov. Corbett would sign into law today a bill establishing fees for Marcellus Drilling in Pennsylvania.
"The truth is, it's better than nothing at all," said Monroe County Republican Rep. Mario Scavello.
That about sums it up.
Harrisburg is so smitten by the gas industry, that it virtually asked drillers how much they were willing to pay the state. How many times have you seen an industry remain publicly silent in the face of new fees or taxes?
First, it must be a flat fee, so that those extra profits generated by higher gas prices are protected. Then, it must disappear over time, so that some day, after a few years of production, there is no fee at all.
As for the environmental regulations? Sure we'll allow the ingredients of our fracking cocktails to be made public, but there must be an exception for anything we believe to be a proprietary ingredient.
Done. Done. And done.
But, at least it's better than nothing, and the state and local governments where those wells are drilled stand to split as much as $180 million in the first year from the nearly 4,000 Marcellus wells already drilled. Of course, local governments would have to invoke the privilege or they get nothing; it's not automatic. In our own county there appears to be at least one county commissioner who might be disinclined, since prior to the last election he compared forcing the gas industry to pay a fee to ameliorate environmental and infrastructure degradation to taxing golf tees for their environmental damage.
There doesn't appear to be anything in the bill that provides revenue to counties which receive spent frack water to treat, but don't have any wells within their borders. Too bad for them.
But, at least it's better than nothing.
And that's what we've had up to this point.